Disclosed Emails Reveal Texas Lottery Commission Wanted Contract with DraftKings
February 2, 2016
The Texas Lottery Commission was revealed to have been seriously exploring the possibility of adding Daily Fantasy Sports to its list of offerings, according to emails acquired by the Dallas Morning News. The emails show deep correspondence between the commission’s Executive Director, Gary Grief, and Daily Fantasy Sports giant DraftKings, as well as with contacts in the state of Delaware, which has been one of the first states to legalize this form of online gambling.
Grief has drawn criticism because his office had recently claimed its interest was only superficial, simply research on the nature of policy surrounding Fantasy Sports regulation. But Grief’s office’s emails, acquired under Texas’s policy of public records disclosure, reveal that Grief wanted a contract with DraftKings.
On July 14, 2015, Grief wrote his operations director, Michael Anger: “I want to put together a comprehensive proposal for a fantasy football game that can be run under the authority… Something similar is being done in the states of Montana and Delaware now, but I’m realizing my research efforts are sorely lacking.”
Later, after sharing a news article about investments in DraftKings with his colleagues, Grief wrote “This re-emphasizes that we don’t want to leave any stone unturned or any opportunity missed to put a proposed package together, sooner rather than later.”
But the Texas Lottery Commission has since been reigned in by governor Greg Abbott. Abbott learned about a trip of Grief’s to Delaware to meet with important persons there, he formally ordered Grief to cease his explorations. Abbott is reported to have written Grief saying “State laws on gaming are to be viewed strictly as prohibitive to any expansion of gambling.”
Since then, the commission has complied. The Lottery Commission’s chairman, Winston Krause, said “The bottom line is, no one in that organization wants to expand the footprint of gambling in Texas. Nobody.”
“From now on, when somebody from the Legislature calls and says, ‘We might be taking this up,’ the first thing that’s going to happen is going to be a call to governor’s office. We’re not sticking our neck out for anything,” Krause said.
DraftKings claims it “has no business relationship with the Texas Lottery. DraftKings employees have never been in communication nor in meetings with representatives of the Texas Lottery Commission.”
In fiscal year 2015, the Texas Lottery Commission did well. It claimed it had made its “largest annual contributions to Texas education and veterans’ programs in the agency’s 23-year history… With $4.529 billion in gross sales, we broke the sales record set just the previous year, resulting in a total contribution of $1.242 billion to the State of Texas, our single largest annual transfer of revenue to the state.”