DFS Legalization In Washington Appears To Be Dead On Arrival
Legal Sports Report

Ohio ‘Likely To Pass A Bill This Year’ On Daily Fantasy Sports, Lobbyist Says

Ohio fantasy sports
A legislative hearing about daily fantasy sports in Washington state on Wednesday ended up creating news in an entirely different state.

First, DFS in Washington state

A new bill seeking to legalize paid-entry fantasy sports contests in the state — S 5169 — was being considered by the Senate Commerce, Labor & Sports Committee. Washington is one of five states where DFS has almost always been considered illegal in the US

Ultimately, no action was taken on that bill. Then, later, this came out:

Then, news on Ohio and DFS

Rob McKenna, a former state attorney general who lobbies for DraftKings and FanDuel in Washington, testified in front of the committee.

McKenna offered his clients’ position on legalization in Washington and on laws and bills across the country. That is when McKenna said that Ohio is “likely to pass a bill this year” during his testimony.

A number of fantasy sports bills have cropped up in the US this year — and eight passed in 2016. But Ohio is relatively early in the legislative process, making McKenna’s pronouncement a surprise.

Backstory on Ohio and DFS

A bill has not even been introduced for the current session, although two bills surfaced late in 2016.

The first was one that sought to make DFS illegal; the second was a bill friendly to the industry. McKenna was obviously referring to the latter, or at least an iteration of that legislation.

State Attorney General Mike DeWine precipitated the need for action in Ohio with this proclamation:

It is unclear whether DFS websites, as currently operating, violate R.C. Chapter 2915. Due to this lack of clarity, and the variety of laws DFS implicates, the General Assembly may want to address this issue.

The words from McKenna seem to point to the fact that DFS lobbyists feel good about their position in the Ohio capitol. It also means leadership in the legislature is likely supporting the bill. So short of some unforeseen circumstances, Ohio seems to be a heavy favorite to legalize DFS in 2017.

 

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Dustin Gouker
- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner.