Olszewski Seeks to Exempt Fantasy Football from Gambling Laws

The bill would allow Maryland residents to participate in online fantasy leagues that pay out money to winners.


A state delegate from Dundalk is betting this is the year that his proposed law exempting fantasy football from state gaming laws is passed in the Maryland General Assembly.

Del. John Olszewski Jr., a Democrat, said he plans to re-introduce his bill that would allow Maryland residents to participate in online fantasy football leagues where winners are paid cash prizes.

Currently, state residents are prohibited from playing in leagues on sites like CBSsports.com and ESPN.com, although they can participate in free leagues, said Olszewski.

"Maryland is one of four states specifically prohibited from playing in the paid leagues," Olszewski said. "My bill would allow Marylanders the ability to enjoy the same rights that others around the country currently enjoy."

Olszewski, who said he indulges in a fantasy football league or two, said the leagues don't meet the state definition of gambling and added that a 2006 federal law allows online fantasy leagues—provided that they are not prohibited at the state level.

"It's a lot different than throwing a dollar in a slot machine and having an immediate win-loss result," said Olszewski. "It's not based on scores or point spreads."

Olszewski has pre-filed the bill for this year's Maryland General Assembly session.

It was previously introduced in 2009 and 2010. Despite receiving no opposition, the bill has never received a vote in the House Ways and Means Committee.

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Joan Wood January 03, 2012 at 04:36 PM
I bet if the State can figure out a way to get a cut of the action......it would pass.
CB9678 January 03, 2012 at 06:29 PM
I wonder if they ever enforce this and if they go shut down bridge clubs too!
Billy Pilgrim January 04, 2012 at 10:21 AM
That's working for your paycheck, Junior! If passed, this will surely stimulate jobs for your constituents. Always looking out for us! "My bill would allow Marylanders the ability to enjoy the same rights that others around the country currently enjoy." I can think of a few other rights we are denied that matter a little more than fantasy football, but who really cares about them?
Steve Shawson January 04, 2012 at 11:36 AM
As they say on ESPN: "C'mon man!" I mean really? All the problems that we face in this state and this is the best that this delegate can come up with? Sad! A fantasy football bill? Wow! Now that will stimulate economic growth and jobs. No wonder they want to "throw them all out of office". I highly recommend to this delegate that he refocus his attention on the important things in his district.....like jobs, less taxes and economic growth. Of course, we may have to wait for that until after he makes his picks for this weekends playoff games! Your constituents deserve better than this.
John Olszewski, Jr. January 04, 2012 at 12:19 PM
Steve and others - thank you for your feedback on this legislative proposal. However, unlike your posts suggest, I am a legislator that can actually focus on more than one thing at a time, and as such have a robust agenda planned to help grow jobs and lower taxes for the working families of my district. In addition to my opposition to the gas tax and my ongoing efforts to adjust income tax rates so that they do not increase with inflation, I have already signaled my intention to introduce legislation to allow public school choice in Baltimore County, and have several other bills planned that would help residents save money. This says nothing of my efforts as part of a "Blue Dog Democrat" Coalition that has worked with the administration to highlight ways in which the state can do more for the business community. In response, the Governor has created a "Maryland Made Easy" (easy.Maryland.gov) website that helps to streamline business permits and called for a review of all the state's regulations for adjustment and/or elimination. I've also been involved in the Public-Private-Partnership agreement at the Port of Baltimore that is literally bringing thousands of new jobs to the area, and continue to work with the community to identify other job-creation opportunities such as the proposed Fort Howard project, which could lead to as much as $500 million in economic activity in the southeast part of Baltimore County. Delegate John Olszewski, Jr.
Joan Wood January 04, 2012 at 03:30 PM
How about the proposed gax tax increase...........you for that too? I believe I read that Maryland is the 5th highest taxed state in the Nation and that we are number two in food stamp fraud............these are REAL issues that need to be addressed..........NOT FANTASY FOOTBALL!!!! Maryland made easy.........you are kidding right??
Joan Wood January 04, 2012 at 05:05 PM
You are kidding right? With all the really important issues facing not only Maryland but the Nation.........you think it's really important to have a bill that allows you to play Fantasy Football?? Both my son-in-law and nephew play this. Fine.........give me some tax decreases.....toll decreases.....SPENDING decreases...........then talk to me about fantasy football! And Matthew I am aware Delegates submit several bills per session...........I just think there might be something a little more pressing this session.......if you want football.........vote for football..........I am a big believer in you get what you vote for.....so go for it! I'm sure it will make several of my male family members very happy!
Karebear January 05, 2012 at 02:11 PM
I am confused on where in the article does it state that this is the only issue the delegate is working to fix? Perhaps the article seemed to have merit to the reporter and Patch editors, given that we are currently in the midst of the NFL playoffs. YES, there are other concerns, such as the GAS tax, but maybe, just maybe, we can focus on some less serious things for once. It saddens me to see people basically attack the delegate over this. If any of you think this is the only issue on his agenda, then you live in ignorance.
Karebear January 05, 2012 at 02:12 PM
AND, for it is worth, I was unaware that the paid leagues were illegal until this article.
concerned reader January 05, 2012 at 10:26 PM
I was unaware of that, as well. Fantasy football is so popular and seems harmless to me...
Steve Shawson January 05, 2012 at 11:38 PM
Mr. Olszewski: I apologize for the comments that I made. At no time did I intend this to be an attack on you and your performance as a state delegate. In fact, several of your priorities I agree with and I applaud. I just was taken aback that this legislation is something that needed to be introduced at the time, given the situation that the state is in concerning the economy. Please accept my apologies. I know that your are committed to your constituents in the Dundalk area. Steve Shawson Perry Hall
Sean Douglas Franklin January 06, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Did you even read his response he stated he was AGAINST the gas tax and listed several other proposals he is working towards. Are you a westsider or a republican? You must be one of them it's obvious with your one track agenda.
Rebecca Nelson January 11, 2012 at 06:15 AM
SAVE FORT HOWARD FOR VETERANS ONLY!!!!! http://ipetitions.com/petition/save-fort-howard/ Fort Howard L.L.C. can give unlimited 'donations' to politicians!! Join save fort howard on facebook.com/saveforthoward Senator Norman Stone and Senator Nominee Rebecca Weir Nelson are fighting for our veterans hospital to be restored at FORT HOWARD!!!!!!!
Dave Rice August 31, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Here is one good idea, There is an old Bar called Hariolds at the corner of Penninsula Hwy and Merrit Blvd. Use this as a shelter . No Shopping area to worry about and less than 1/2 mile from Polic e Station and Olkeskis office. Now thats a good use for the delapidated bldg. that is becomming ajn eye sore to tghe community. think about it elected officials makes sence to mje. Do Your job instead of all the opppisition to what you were elected to do.
John T. September 07, 2012 at 04:23 PM
I wish Del. Olszewski was a avid on line poker player, then maybe he would work to get that legalized as well, instead of picking and chosing. If I want to sit down at the computer and play an on-line game I cannot because it's illegal.


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