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Miller: 'somebody needs to act' on fantasy sports betting

Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller may have pushed to legalize casinos in Maryland, but he will not champion fantasy sports-betting websites.

Miller said Monday commercial fantasy sites like DraftKings and FanDuel need to stop operating in Maryland or propose legislation to make their ventures legal here.

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Miller, a Democrat, said an attorney general's letter issued last week made clear the day-betting on the fantasy sports is not authorized under existing law, a circumstance that has allowed the multi-billion dollar organizations to avoid taxes and regulation.

Nationwide, the commercial fantasy sports industry expanded faster than the laws governing it, leading several states to call for them to shut down. Amid the national backlash, Miller said that he had no intention of pushing legislation to put the enterprise on solid legal footing in Maryland, where more than 100,000 people play.

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Miller told reporters Monday night the industry needed to act to save itself.

"Somebody needs to take action," Miller said. "I think it's up to the industry to say, 'We're going to clean up our act, and we need to be legal and propose legislation to make that happen.' "

Industry representatives last week said they were eager to work with the legislature to clarify their legal standing in Maryland so that hundreds of thousands of people could continue to play.

The companies hired top Maryland lobbyists and consultants in advance of the General Assembly session that convened last week.

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Miller was a driving force behind legalizing casinos in Maryland but has not endorsed for-profit fantasy sports gaming, where players can pick new rosters each day rather than embark on a season-long wager with friends and family. The distinction both raises the stakes for daily bets and means the activity is not covered by a 2012 state law designed to legalize informal sports pools.

Officials in New York, Nevada and Illinois have taken steps to curtail or halt daily betting on the online fantasy sites.

In Maryland, officials have raised questions and concerns about the sites but not taken any formal action to limit play.

Miller asked the Maryland Attorney General's Office for advice on whether voters should have authorized the daily fantasy betting site s and whether they legal. In his first public remarks since the letter of advice was released Friday, Miller made clear he would not be a champion for the industry.

"I don't have a next step," he said. "I did my part by requesting an opinion."

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