DALLAS (CN) – Attorney General Ken Paxton on Monday fired back at DraftKings’ lawsuit challenging his advisory opinion that fantasy sports betting websites are illegal gambling in Texas, and asked a Dallas County judge to move the case or dismiss it.
DraftKings sued Paxton after he issued the nonbinding opinion in January, saying such bets are illegal under the Texas Penal Code because the outcomes of games “depends partially on chance” and the house takes a cut. He said website operators “incorrectly claim the actual-contestant exception” under Texas law, which applies only to contestants in an actual skill or sporting event.
Paxton concluded that traditional fantasy sports leagues are legal under state law because participants split the pot rather than paying the house a cut.
Paxton’s office said in a statement Monday evening that Texas law requires only “partial chance” for something to be gambling.
“It does not require that chance predominate,” his office said. “Traditional fantasy sports leagues that are not operated by a third party for revenue are, as a general rule, legal under Texas law.”
DraftKings claims that Paxton exceeded his authority in issuing the opinion and violated it due process rights.
In his answer, plea to jurisdiction and motion to transfer venue Monday, Paxton said the website operator failed to allege a valid due process claim.
“Here, DraftKings does not have a constitutionally protected interest in providing input in the Attorney General’s opinion process,” the 42-page filing states. “Further, DraftKings does not have a constitutionally protected interest in profiting from gambling that is illegal under Texas law. As a result, its federal due process claim fails on its face.”
Paxton wants venue changed to Travis County (Austin), where his office is.
“Even if venue is not mandatory in Travis County, the court should grant the motion to transfer venue to Travis County because no substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to this suit occurred in Dallas County,” the filing states. “Instead, such events occurred in Travis County.”
Paxton also wrote that civil courts “lack jurisdiction” to construe criminal statutes.
Another website operator, FanDuel, stopped taking paid bets in Texas on Monday, under terms of a settlement with Paxton’s office announced last month.
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