Legislative deadlines loom in several key states for DraftKings, FanDuel
Legal Sports Report

Why May Is A Big Month For DraftKings, FanDuel And The Fantasy Sports Industry

Florida fantasy sports
The most important times of year for the daily fantasy sports industry used to always revolve around the sports calendar. Now, the legislative calendar is just as important, if not more so.

A number of critical states are scheduled to wrap up their legislative sessions in May. So far this year, the DFS industry has scored victories in Mississippi and Arkansas. That brings to 11 the number of states passing laws to legalize paid-entry fantasy contests.

Will more states follow suit this month?

Florida and DFS

The biggest state in the short term for DFS is Florida, whose legislature is supposed to adjourn this week.

While a standalone bill exists in Florida, it appears more likely that DFS would be legalized through a larger gambling bill in the state. That legislation would also deal with the state’s gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe.

Right now, it appears the House are on the same page. Per FloridaPolitics, the Senate:

…Concurs with language in a House bill exempting fantasy sports play from state gambling regulation. It would clarify that fantasy contests “reflect the relative knowledge and skill of the participants” and are not games of chance – and thus not gambling.

The question remains whether the Seminoles are on board. There’s also the new development that the House is holding the gaming bill hostage in the hopes of getting another bill passed.

Nevertheless, Florida is on the clock after two years of trying to legalize DFS. Will it happen this time?

Texas and DFS

Next on the agenda is another important DFS state: Texas.

Texas daily fantasy sports has been in flux since a negative opinion from Attorney General Ken Paxton last year.

There has been a big push on fantasy sports legislation this year. The latest example was a poll showing that a vast majority of Texans support legislation that would legalize it. (Of course, we should expect such numbers given the poll was bankrolled by the DFS industry.)

So far, legislation has made it through a House committee vote.

On the flip side of the coin is the fact that Texas is likely to be tentative to do anything with an activity that resembles gambling. (One recent editorial tried to equate DFS to hog contests.)

Regardless, the stakes are highest in Texas of any state. And we’ll find out if the legislature will act this month.

Alabama and DFS

Alabama — a state that both DraftKings and FanDuel do not serve — already passed a bill in the House.

That vote was contentious and narrow. The bill’s prospects are unclear in the Senate. The “gambling” issue is just as sticky in Alabama as it is in Texas.

But clearly, the fantasy industry would love to turn around a state with a negative legal climate.

Illinois and DFS

Illinois was a hotbed for DFS legislative activity last year. But things have been quiet this year, although bills do exist.

If a deal is to be brokered this year to legalize DFS in a state with a negative AG opinion, it will have to happen quickly.

Vermont and DFS

A bill cleared the Senate in Vermont, but still must make it through the House. Vermont is another state with a murky legal climate.

It’s a small state, but gaining a victory there would still be meaningful.

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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.