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DALLAS (AP) — Records show that for months, the Texas Lottery Commission aggressively pursued efforts to get the Texas lottery involved in the multibillion-dollar fantasy sports business, The Dallas Morning News reported Friday.
Commission Executive Director Gary Grief wanted a deal with DraftKings so that the commission could offer fantasy sports games, the newspaper (http://bit.ly/1n1FPBr ) reported online, based on more than 400 emails, including communications with fantasy sports lobbyists, that it reviewed.
Records contradict the commission's public statements that it was pursuing only traditional lottery draws and scratch-off games.
The documents show that Grief pressed his staff to expedite a deal to get the Texas lottery a beachhead in the fantasy sports business. The campaign continued even after DraftKings and FanDuel, a similar business, became embroiled in a scandal over insider betting.
Commission Chairman Winston Krause said Grief explored the matter at the urging of a lawmaker, whose identity Krause said he couldn't remember.
Grief said in a written statement that he would say only that the commission had stopped its efforts. He declined requests by the Morning News for an interview and didn't respond to an email from The Associated Press late Friday.
When Grief and some of his staff members traveled to Delaware to investigate DraftKings' operation, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott got wind of the trip from a Morning News reporter and ordered the commission to end its pursuit, the newspaper reported.
"State laws on gaming are to be viewed strictly as prohibitive to any expansion of gambling," Abbott wrote to Krause.
Krause said that's when the lawmaker lost interest.
"From now on, when somebody from the Legislature calls and says, 'We might be taking this us,' the first thing that's going to happen is going to be a call to the governor's office. We're not sticking our neck out for anything," Krause told the newspaper.
Separately, state Rep. Myra Crownover, R-Denton, has asked Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton for an opinion on whether the Internet-based daily fantasy sports games are legal in Texas. The Fantasy Sports Trade Association has asked its clientele to ask Paxton, a Republican, to remain neutral on the issue.
The daily fantasy sports industry grew from 32 million players in 2010 to more than 56 million in 2015, according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association. Players increased their spending from an average of about $5 over a 12-month period in 2012 to about $257 in 2015.
In recent months, states such as New York, Arizona, Louisiana and Washington have moved to block Internet-based fantasy sports games. Nevada has declared fantasy sports will be regulated as a gambling interest in the state. The Montana Lottery offers fantasy sports only in casinos and certain pubs.
Information from: The Dallas Morning News, http://www.dallasnews.com