Hawaii attorney general says daily fantasy sports contests are illegal

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Jan 27 (Reuters) - Hawaii's attorney general issued a formal advisory opinion on Wednesday that said daily fantasy sports contests, such as those run by FanDuel and DraftKings, constitute illegal gambling under existing state laws.

"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,"Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin said in a statement. "The technology may have changed, but the vice has not."

Playing in a league with friends or colleagues, considered "social gambling," is legal in Hawaii, while daily fantasy sports contests involve hundreds or thousands of people, bets of up to $1,000 and top prizes of up to $1 million, the statement said.

See images from past investigations and protests:

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Hawaii attorney general says daily fantasy sports contests are illegal
FILE - In this Nov. 13, 2015, file photo, fantasy sports fans demonstrate outside the Financial District offices of New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, in New York. Schneiderman ordered fantasy sports industry giants DraftKings and FanDuel to stop accepting play from New Yorkers, saying their business amounts to illegal gambling. Schneiderman maintains that New York law bans taking bets as a business, with exceptions for horse racing, casinos, state lotteries and certain other settings, but not daily fantasy sports sites. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
Geoff Bough, right, leads fantasy sports fans as they demonstrate outside the Financial District offices of New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, in New York, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Schneiderman's decision that daily fantasy sports betting sites FanDuel and DraftKings are illegal gambling operations in his state is a blow to the companies, but the multibillion-dollar industry could have more legal headaches yet to come. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Fantasy sports fans demonstrate outside the Financial District offices of New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, in New York, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Schneiderman's decision that daily fantasy sports betting sites FanDuel and DraftKings are illegal gambling operations in his state is a blow to the companies, but the multibillion-dollar industry could have more legal headaches yet to come. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Fantasy sports fans demonstrate outside the Financial District offices of New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, in New York, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Schneiderman's decision that daily fantasy sports betting sites FanDuel and DraftKings are illegal gambling operations in his state is a blow to the companies, but the multibillion-dollar industry could have more legal headaches yet to come. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Fantasy sports fans demonstrate outside the Financial District offices of New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, in New York, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Schneiderman's decision that daily fantasy sports betting sites FanDuel and DraftKings are illegal gambling operations in his state is a blow to the companies, but the multibillion-dollar industry could have more legal headaches yet to come. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
The DraftKings Inc. app is arranged for a photograph on an Apple Inc. iPhone in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015. Fantasy sports companies DraftKings Inc. and FanDuel Inc. raised a total of $575 million in July from investors including KKR & Co., 21st Century Fox Inc. and Major League Baseball to attract players to games that pay out millions of dollars in cash prizes in daily contests. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
In this Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, photo, Bear Duker, a marketing manager for strategic partnerships at DraftKings, a daily fantasy sports company, works at his computer in Boston. The daily fantasy sports industry is eyeing a breakout season as NFL games begin. And its two dominant companies, DraftKings and FanDuel, are touting lucrative opening week prizes to try to draw more customers as more competitors pop up. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
In this Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, photo, an employee in the software development department of DraftKings, a daily fantasy sports company, walks past screens displaying the company's online system stats in Boston. The daily fantasy sports industry is eyeing a breakout season as NFL games begin. And its two dominant companies, DraftKings and FanDuel, are touting lucrative opening week prizes to try to draw more customers as more competitors pop up. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
The DraftKings Inc. website is arranged for a photograph on an Apple Inc. iPad in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015. Fantasy sports companies DraftKings Inc. and FanDuel Inc. raised a total of $575 million in July from investors including KKR & Co., 21st Century Fox Inc. and Major League Baseball to attract players to games that pay out millions of dollars in cash prizes in daily contests. Photographer: Zia Morales/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The FanDuel Inc. app and DraftKings Inc. website are arranged for a photograph in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Oct. 5, 2015. Fantasy sports companies DraftKings Inc. and FanDuel Inc. raised a total of $575 million in July from investors including KKR & Co., 21st Century Fox Inc. and Major League Baseball to attract players to games that pay out millions of dollars in cash prizes in daily contests. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
In this Sept. 29, 2015, photo, Jason Robins, center, CEO of DraftKings website, speaks on a panel at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas. His companyâs rising visibility is spawning debate among the casino industry and regulators about the definition of gambling and whether all sports betting should be legalized and regulated. (AP Photo/John Locher)
In this Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, photo, Devlin D'Zmura, a tending news manager at DraftKings, a daily fantasy sports company, works on his laptop at the company's offices in Boston. The daily fantasy sports industry is eyeing a breakout season as NFL games begin. And its two dominant companies, DraftKings and FanDuel, are touting lucrative opening week prizes to try to draw more customers as more competitors pop up. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
In this Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, photo, customer service representative at DraftKings, a daily fantasy sports company, work at their stations at the company's offices in Boston. The daily fantasy sports industry is eyeing a breakout season as NFL games begin. And its two dominant companies, DraftKings and FanDuel, are touting lucrative opening week prizes to try to draw more customers as more competitors pop up. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
In this Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, photo, Len Don Diego, marketing manager for content at DraftKings, a daily fantasy sports company, works at his station at the company's offices in Boston. The daily fantasy sports industry is eyeing a breakout season as NFL games begin. And its two dominant companies, DraftKings and FanDuel, are touting lucrative opening week prizes to try to draw more customers as more competitors pop up. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
The DraftKings Inc. logo is arranged for a photograph on an Apple Inc. iPhone in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015. Fantasy sports companies DraftKings Inc. and FanDuel Inc. raised a total of $575 million in July from investors including KKR & Co., 21st Century Fox Inc. and Major League Baseball to attract players to games that pay out millions of dollars in cash prizes in daily contests. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The FanDuel Inc. and DraftKings Inc. apps are displayed on an Apple Inc. iPhone in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015. Fantasy sports companies DraftKings Inc. and FanDuel Inc. raised a total of $575 million in July from investors including KKR & Co., 21st Century Fox Inc. and Major League Baseball to attract players to games that pay out millions of dollars in cash prizes in daily contests. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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The fast-growing, multibillion-dollar fantasy sports industry dominated by DraftKings and FanDuel has drawn increased attention from state regulators over the past year, with the attorneys general of New York, Illinois, Texas and Nevada challenging their legality.

The games are illegal in Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana and Washington. The attorneys general of New York and Illinois have also declared the games illegal, but those rulings are being challenged in state courts.

Nevada has said fantasy sports companies cannot operate in the state unless they receive gaming licenses. (Reporting by Eric Beech and Eric Walsh in Washington; Editing by Diane Craft)

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