Fantasy sports betting illegal in La., but increasingly popular

Fantasy sports betting illegal in La., but increasingly popular

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - There's no shortage of entertainment with games on all day Sunday - as well as Monday and Thursday nights. Fantasy sports betting gives fans an opportunity to cash in, and while it's exploding in popularity, it's actually illegal in Louisiana.

It's a passion. Some even call it a religion. And for Daniel Cooks, it can take over a weekend.

"If I don't have a lot going on, I can sit down and watch a lot of games - on the phone, on the iPad at the same time," Cooks said.

Cooks has played fantasy sports for years, but his Sunday tradition is transforming into a daily grind.

"NFL games during the week, even," he said. "I'm trying to figure out how it all works - Draft Kings, Fan Duel - a lot of stuff going on, and I'm not really sure how it works. So interested."

NFL fans have noticed the overwhelming number of ads from popular daily fantasy sites. According to, Fan Duel and Draft Kings spent nearly $100,000 million in TV ads combined in September alone. The 25,000 commercials are paying off as more and more fans join the battle for the millions up for grabs.

But when it comes to Louisiana, the buck stops here.

"Louisiana is very clear. Unless it is very specifically exempted, wagering money that is risking something of value for a cash prize would be gambling and therefore be prohibited," said gaming lawyer J. Kelly Duncan

Duncan is a partner at Jones Walker. He said fantasy sports are not regulated by the state. If a company conducting fantasy sports online accepts wagers from a Louisiana resident, then it is violating Louisiana law prohibiting gambling, according to Duncan.

Both Fan Duel and Draft Kings state that they do not accept wagers from Louisiana residents.

They recognize that if they did so, they would be violating Louisiana law, Duncan said.

"There is a notion that if the game is purely skill that it exempted under certain federal laws and would allow them to offer this game, but what's always important for anyone to recognize is the state has the right to limit gaming or gambling as the case may be, as it sees fit - irrespective to whatever the federal law says," Duncan said.

State Rep. Joseph Lopinto III from Metairie tried twice to change the law to legalize fantasy sports, but his bills came up short.

"The legislature and the state have not taken any actions to ban fantasy gaming," Lopinto said. "This is a bill that was coming into place back in 1991 that banned gambling by computer, which is interpreted to include fantasy gaming."

The Louisiana Family Forum lobbied against the bill, saying it would open the floodgates to online gambling. But Lopinto says the advertising frenzy may help the bill to pass next session.

"They just needed to be more informed of what daily gaming was," he said. "As you said, it's become an explosion because of the advertising. But most people did not understand in Louisiana daily gaming at all because we didn't have it here."

State Police regulate gambling. This afternoon, a spokesman with the department said when it comes to fantasy sports betting, state investigators are in communication with their federal partners to determine who has jurisdiction because it's done over the Internet.

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