I Was Wrong About DraftsKings: Massachusetts Lawyers Happily Welcome It

hare_2074103iNC reminded me of this.  Before I go on to talk about it you need a little background. DraftKings is a Boston based group that engages in sports fantasy betting. That means you place bets on a chance to win money on the outcome of a game. The president of our State Senate recognizes this is gambling as does the New York attorney general, the state of Las Vegas, and most intellectually honest people. Even the Massachusetts attorney recognizes it as a form of gambling. The only one who seems to think that it isn’t is our highly popular governor Charlie Baker. He says it is a game of skill. He concluded this because he played the game. Apparently he is a man of skill when it comes to fantasy football. Who knew!

Anyway the governor finds himself in a small community of people who want to play pretend or are being rewarded mightily for their deliberate blindness. Most of the adult world is able to tell when a game involves chance and not skill. Clearly if poker which involves much more skill than fantasy football is considered gambling so must fantasy football.

Now here’s the thing, about 90% of those who play this game of fantasy football lose. Some lose a lot of money. It is these Big Losers the Massachusetts lawyers are beating the bushes looking to find. Not that they will help the Big Loser. They care little about them. All they want to know is the identity of the Big Loser, the amount of the loss, and that Big Loser did nothing about it.

Here’s the deal. A Big Loser can sue to get his losses back within three months of having paid them to the winner, in this case DraftKings. If Big Loser doesn’t do this, his friendly store-front lawyer wants to know about his loss and his negligence.

This lawyer can then pick up the ball. He can ask his girl or his secretary or any person he wants if she’d like to make a few bucks. If so, the lawyer can use her to sue DraftKings to recover Big Loser’s losses.

But that’s not the best part of it. Not only will she get what Big Loser lost, she will get three times what he lost. If Big Loser lost five grand, she will get fifteen grand less, of course, the lawyer’s cut. Is it any wonder the lawyers are scrambling around looking for all you Big Losers?

You probably think I’m jesting.  I’m not. Here’s the law: It is Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 137, Section 1.  Its title is: Recovery of Money or Goods Lost at Gambling: Limitation Period.

It reads as follows:

Section 1. Whoever, by playing at cards, dice or other game, or by betting on the sides or hands of those gaming, except for gaming conducted in licensed gaming establishments pursuant to chapter 23K, loses to a person so playing or betting money or goods, and pays or delivers the same or any part thereof to the winner, or whoever pays or delivers money or other thing of value to another person for or in consideration of a lottery, policy or pool ticket, certificate, check or slip, or for or in consideration of a chance of drawing or obtaining any money, prize or other thing of value in a lottery or policy game, pool or combination, or other bet, may recover such money or the value of such goods in contract; and if he does not within three months after such loss, payment or delivery, without covin or collusion, prosecute such action with effect, any other person may sue for and recover in tort treble the value thereof. (my emphasis)

Yes, that is three times the value of the loss to any person who knows a Big Loser and a friendly lawyer.  It’s going to be hard to resist. It’s good news for private investigators who will be out searching for the Big Losers and the law schools which are turning out more lawyers than ever could earn a decent day’s pay without a Big Dig which DraftKings provides.

Like anyone, I hate to admit I am wrong. I said DraftKings should be shuttered. That was a big mistake. Its existence as a gambling outfit will provide a good pay day for lots of people in Massachusetts especially lawyers. You got to hand it to Governor Baker when he said a new industry was coming to town. DraftKings will be the gift that keeps on giving for the Massachusetts bar.

5 thoughts on “I Was Wrong About DraftsKings: Massachusetts Lawyers Happily Welcome It

  1. Bill asks if Draftkings is a Boston company wouldn’t all losses nationwide ( $ two billion) be subject to this law. They chose to do business in this state and are subject to it’s laws.

  2. How many states have a similar law? If ten states have a comparable rule where you can obtain triple damages from the winner of the bet a lot could be at stake. If the fantasy leagues have a million participants about 200 thousand would be subject to the Mass. type law. Does the average player lose $1500 a year? Times that by 200 thousand and triple it you get close to one billion dollars. Could a well connected law firm of former AUSAs file a class action in the Boston Federal Court and have a buddy judge certify the class? The legal fee would be enormous. Nothing at that locale is on the level 2. Should the doctors at MGH take action against the Globe and DOJ for their fake investigation of doctors doing two operations at the same time? No criminal law is implicated in their actions. It is just a shakedown by the DOJ to force the doctors and the hospital to hire connected lawyers who will charge millions in fees. It is a copy of what they did to City Hall for the Teamsters protest. Nothing happened. Kelly gets a big fee. MGH should announce they are no longer accepting Federal employees as patients and they are not accepting Globe employees either. However they will accept them if the pay a ten thousand dollar surcharge which would go to defray legal expenses. One hand washes the other.

    1. NC:

      Anyone who loses can bring a case in Massachusetts. Of course there would be one problem, like those who thought the people who ran the St. Patrick’s Day parade had to include as marchers gay people even though they did not want to do that and they were backed up by the Massachusetts judges against the clear mandate of the Constitution, so you would probably find that those seeking to recover their losses would learn that like the governor and other elected officials they would not understand the law and find the statute was not applicable. The only chance to collect would be to hire a firm that is as you say is better connected than the one which would represent DraftKings.

      2. The Supreme Court has made it impossible to sue prosecutors. The Globe only reports what its prosecutors do. Kelly can’t get more than 50,000 according to an amendment to his contract which was probably put in place since they found he was racking up all sorts of hours in an investigation that could have easily been concluded in less than a day since when it comes down to it there was nothing to investigate in the first place.
      court and sought to force the parade organizers to include them in it what they w

  3. Matt,

    Not sure why you’re so angry about Draftskings (sic). I’m pretty sure nobody has been forced to sign up at gunpoint. As far as the lawsuits go, will we be seeing the same thing from people who bought $100.00 church raffle tickets? It’s gambling isn’t it? Ah, but it was sanctioned by the state, right? Do you think Draftkings or Fanduel spent all that money to open an offices in Boston without first seeking legal opinion? Of course not. You may disagree with the opinion they received, but they most certainly aren’t doing anything illegal until such time as the law changes. I wonder if you would have such an inexplicable anger if Bob Kraft ( as you point out in almost every post on the subject) wasn’t a minor investor. Things that make you go hmmmm!!

    1. Declan:

      Your love of the Patriots and all things associated with them from the boss to the water boy come out.

      Did you read about the Attorney General announcing the indictment of a bunch of guys recently who will be arraigned on November 30. None of the people they served had “been forced to sign up at gunpoint.” Yet, they are indicted. Does that seem strange to you that some people who run gambling operations get indicted and some don’t?

      Or, is it you, Governor Baker, and others suggest that DraftKings is not gambling. If it isn’t and involves skill such as a track meet, what give the attorney general the right to regulate it? If you say all the college and high school kids playing the game are doing it because of their skill, then stop reading here.

      If you think it is gambling, answer me why some sports gambling is legal and other is not. Oh, you suggest they have lawyers who told them it isn’t illegal. If it isn’t, why is it being regulated? And as far as lawyers are concerned, we’ve had lawyers telling us water boarding was legal because they changed the name of it to enhanced interrogation which goes along with the idea fantasy football involves skill.

      There is no doubt what they are doing is illegal. Read the law, chapter271, section 16A. Even the attorney general agrees that is the case but she said it was a “century-old-law” which she has decided not to enforce but to regulate after coming to the obvious conclusion it involved some form of gambling.

      I have no anger about the matter just a belief that the laws should be enforced evenly across the board against both those with influence and those without. I see that the fantasy groups are backed by big money people and in the face of an obvious law that I used to enforce are being given a pass. Bob Kraft is just an example of the big money that is able to skirt the law as well as along with the other NFL owners (and other sports owners) being total hypocrites who oppose sports gambling unless they get a cut out of it.

      I express my opinion based on my experience. The fantasy sports gambling has been pushed on the public by big money people and some like you use the excuse that people engage in it freely. I noted before all gambling among adults has been engaged in freely but it has been illegal for good reasons for well over a century. More so now should it be to protect the young people who have access to credit cards. I’d add that the attorney general by regulating something illegal does not make it legal. I could not set up a gambling casino in Boston and have her regulate it; I can’t do it because it is illegal.

      I express my opinion. You can close your eyes to it. When you start suggesting that because it is engaged in by a lot of people then that makes it legal is a non starter.

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