The Hawaii Attorney General’s office issued an opinion Wednesday saying daily fantasy sports contests like those run by FanDuel and DraftKings constitute illegal gambling in Hawaii.

House Speaker Joe Souki has introduced a bill that would clarify that fantasy contests are indeed illegal. But he’s also introduced a bill — co-sponsored by Reps. John Mizuno, James Tokioka and Kyle Yamashita — that would authorize and regulate them.

Attorney General Doug Chin listens to AG's attorney Julie Shina during oral arguments at the Hawaii State Supreme Court. Mauna Kea. 27 aug 2015. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat
Attorney General Doug Chin, seen here in August, has released an opinion finding fantasy gaming to be illegal in Hawaii. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

“Gambling generally occurs under Hawaii law when a person stakes or risks something of value upon a game of chance or upon any future contingent event not under the person’s control,” Attorney General Doug Chin said in a statement. “The technology may have changed, but the vice has not.”

Nearly 60 million Americans play fantasy sports, with the vast majority participating in a league with friends or colleagues that might be considered “social gambling” which is legal in Hawaii, according to the AG’s office.

Daily fantasy sports contests, by contrast, typically involve competitions between hundreds or thousands of people, are played daily, involve wagers of up to $1,000, and allow each individual multiple entries leading to top prizes of up to $1 million, the AG’s office said.

House Bill 1838 would make fantasy contests legal under certain conditions, which include a $25,000 registration fee to be paid by the contest operator.

House Bill 2111, on the other hand, would make it a crime to promote fantasy competitions, such as by advertising them in a school or on a college campus.

The Senate is considering the same measures, with Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran the lead sponsor on each.

No hearings have been scheduled yet for the legislation.

Read the AG’s opinion, written by Deputy AG Kevin Takata, below.

About the Author