Bills In Pennsylvania, Illinois Eschew 'Game Of Skill' Designation
Legal Sports Report

Daily Fantasy Sports Still Getting Pushback As ‘Gambling’ In Some States

DFS as gambling
The daily fantasy sports industry largely won the argument that it should be classified as a “game of skill” and not “gambling” in the eight states that passed laws in 2016.

That distinction, however, is not entirely a settled one in some jurisdictions that have yet to explicitly legalize and regulate DFS.

Illinois DFS bill resurfaces

Illinois was a major battleground state in 2016 before an effort to legalize DFS stalled.

Several bills regarding DFS, including ones that would explicitly make it illegal, cropped up last year.

The first one to resurface in 2017 was one that would make DFS legal while treating it as gambling in the state. (It appeared last year, as well, while gaining little traction.)

That is a distinction that the industry has universally pushed back against. It’s unlikely at this point that DraftKings or FanDuel — or any other current operator, for that matter — would submit to regulation in a state that describes DFS as a form of gambling, unless it had no other option.

There’s no sense of whether this legislative effort has a chance in 2017. But its existence does point to the fact that not every lawmaker believes DFS should be classified universally as a game of skill outside of a state’s gambling laws.

That includes an important lawmaker in another state.

Pennsylvania and DFS

Pennsylvania is attempting to deal with DFS in terms of a larger gambling expansion in the state.

The assumption was that it would be treated as a game of skill as it has in other states. However, that appears not to be the case, at least in the forthcoming plan from Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa.

This revelation came via the Pittsburgh City Paper:

Costa spokesperson Stacey Witalec says the senator believes that DFS is gambling, and his legislation is following other states’ leads that DFS should be regulated.

“We believe this is a gaming-type product where people wager money and are rewarded based on the outcome of events,” wrote Witalec in an email to City Paper. “Whether it involves skill or luck, regulation should be completed.”

The Republican (the majority party in PA’s legislature) plan for gaming expansion and DFS in the state has not yet appeared, so it’s not clear if this is the plan that will actually move forward.

Still, there have been no losses for DFS on this front

Despite a number of state attorneys general saying they believe DFS is a form of gambling, no legislature has acted to agree with them.

Instead, the trend has been to do the opposite.

The industry will continue to hope to rack up wins on this front, and not have to deal with a jurisdiction that defines its contests as gambling.

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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.