Tag Archives: fantasy football


Could fantasy football land you in jail?

Jonathan Hasebe, an attorney at Gallagher & Kennedy.

Jonathan Hasebe, an attorney at Gallagher & Kennedy.

With football season here, fantasy leagues are scoring big with sports fans. But, what may throw many Arizonans for a loss is many sports fans’ favorite pastime can also be a crime. The multi-billion dollar fantasy sports industry is illegal in Arizona, creating potential legal risks and gray areas for fantasy sport enthusiasts.

Since fantasy sports hit the scene, is has exploded in popularity and the professional sports leagues love it because of the marketing and exposure it generates for the leagues. In 2006, the federal government passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act. However, Congress made a specific exemption for fantasy sports, based on the belief that fantasy sports are rooted in skill and outcomes are based primarily on statistical results of the athletes. However, the industry is regulated on the state level.

“Arizona is a unique minority in the nation when it comes to fantasy sports,” according to Jonathan Hasebe, an attorney at Gallagher & Kennedy.

Hasebe said Arizona state law differs with federal law, stating that fantasy sports are based on chance, not skill. This makes fantasy leagues that involve any kind of reward illegal.

Whether a specific fantasy league is legal in Arizona depends on where the league originates and the operating procedures of the league. Three ways exist for the league to be legal:

• The league does not play for money.
• If everyone participating is over the age of 21 and no entity outside of the contest benefits financially.
• If the league is conducted out of a regulated gambling establishment, like a tribal compact casino.

However, Arizonians cannot participate in nationwide fantasy sports leagues that involve reward because of the Arizona Gambling Law that states, “No other person, other than the player or players, derives a profit from the money paid to gamble.” Contests that have an administrative fee disqualifies the league as an “amusement” or “social” gambling event under Arizona law. These contests include popular leagues run by ESPN and CBS.

Last year, State Sen. Adam Driggs attempted to change the standing law with Senate Bill 1468. The bill intended to set fantasy sports apart from gambling and outline the specifics for what is considered fantasy sport under state law. The Arizona Indian Gaming Association came out against the bill, which would have legalized and regulated fantasy sports gaming. The bill failed to reach the senate floor.
“Personally I have never heard of the law being enforced,” Hasebe said.

But, Arizonians who participate are committing a misdemeanor. And under Arizona Chapter 33 of Title 13, which states, “benefiting from a game of chance” is prohibited, commissioners of leagues are committing a Class 5 felony.

The Fantasy Sports Trade Association reported that in 2013 there were more than 33.5 million people playing fantasy sports in the United States alone. It is not only illegal for Arizonans to partake in this national trend, Arizona is also missing out on the business and money-making opportunities that come along with the industry, according to Hasebe.

March Madness

March Madness: Rules To Follow In The Office

March Making You Mad? March Madness: Rules To Follow In The Office

The football season is over — and there are probably a few business owners happy about it.


Some studies suggest that fantasy football costs American businesses $615 million in productivity per NFL week.

But, when one chapter ends, another begins — time for March Madness.

For many of us, March Madness is a rite of passage in the spring, a chance to build camaraderie with co-workers through office pools, a chance to re-connect with college friends during games, and a chance to indulge in a few chicken wings with the family. Just as with fantasy football, however, employers are getting more and more impatient with even the most efficient and talented employees spending work hours accessing gambling websites on company computers during March Madness, taking time to exchange money, trash talk the teams and other sometimes inappropriate behavior with co-workers, friends and family.

At the least, every employee in your office should know the following before filling out a bracket at work:

  • Employers have the right to strictly enforce a policy prohibiting recreational use of the Internet and monitor employee usage to ensure that workers adhere to the policy while working.
  • Employers have the right to expect employees to devote 100 percent of their energies to their jobs between stated work hours.
  • As long as employers act consistently, they can fire employees who play fantasy sports instead of working.

To be safe, what can employers do right now?


If you are the employer, now is the perfect time to explain your specific rules on fantasy leagues in the workplace. It is also importance to note that just because March Madness IS allowed in the office, this doesn’t mean that everyone should take part. Outline reasons for and/or against it and consequences.

If you are the employee and are spending excessive company hours as well as precious time at home on March Madness, you may need more help than the office human resources department can provide and may want to ask yourself these questions.

1. Did you ever lose time from work or school due to gambling?
2. Has gambling ever made your home life unhappy?
3. Did gambling affect your reputation?
4. Have you ever felt remorse after gambling?
5. Did you ever gamble to get money with which to pay debts or otherwise solve financial difficulties?
6. Did gambling cause a decrease in your ambition or efficiency?
7. After losing did you feel you must return as soon as possible and win back your losses?
8. After a win did you have a strong urge to return and win more?
9. Did you often gamble until your last dollar was gone?
10. Did you ever borrow to finance your gambling?
11. Have you ever sold anything to finance gambling?
12. Were you reluctant to use “gambling money” for normal expenditures?
13. Did gambling make you careless of the welfare of yourself or your family?
14. Did you ever gamble longer than you had planned?
15. Have you ever gambled to escape worry, trouble, boredom or loneliness?
16. Have you ever committed, or considered committing, an illegal act to finance gambling?
17. Did gambling cause you to have difficulty in sleeping?
18. Do arguments, disappointments or frustrations create within you an urge to gamble?
19. Did you ever have an urge to celebrate any good fortune by a few hours of gambling?
20. Have you ever considered self-destruction or suicide as a result of your gambling?

According to Gamblers Anonymous, if you answered “yes” to seven or more questions, you or a loved one may have a problem with gambling.

Admitting you or your loved one may need help is the first step to recovery. The second is looking up the Arizona Office of Problem Gambling, which offers a litany of resources and contact information for counseling, treatment programs, additional warning signs and symptoms and much more.

Shayna Balch is an associate in Fisher & Phillips’ local office as well as  a member of the Valley of the Sun Human Resource Association’s Board of Directors. For more information about March Madness in the office, please visit laborlawyers.com or contact Shayna at (602) 281-3406.