State Where DFS Is Illegal Revives Discussion
Legal Sports Report

Washington State Gambling Commission, Senate Committee To Consider Daily Fantasy Sports

Washington DFS
Washington state — one of the five jurisdictions in the U.S. where no daily fantasy sports operator is active — is set to consider the industry in a couple of meetings this month.

Next week: Gambling commission

The Washington State Gambling Commission will tackle the issue of DFS first, with a public meeting that is set for Nov. 12 in Olympia.

According to a press release, the following topics will be addressed:

  • The history of Fantasy Sports
  • The difference between Daily Fantasy Sports & Season Long Fantasy Sports
  • How the games are played and who’s playing
  • Why Fantasy Sports is not legal in Washington State
  • State-by-State Legislative Overview
  • States that have authorized Fantasy Sports

The full meeting agenda can be seen here; agents Dan Frey and Tyson Wilson are scheduled to lead the meeting. Full press release on the DFS segment of the meeting here.

The WSGC has a publication that specifically addresses online gambling, in which DFS is mentioned:

Online fantasy sports wagering is not authorized for play in Washington State.

The federal Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) provides an exemption for fantasy sports; however, the UIGEA also states it does not alter State law prohibiting fantasy sports wagering. Washington State does not allow online fantasy sports wagering and the UIGEA does not change this.

A story earlier this year at ESPN.com noted that the WSGC had been investigating some aspect of DFS:

“Any DFS company operating in Washington or providing services to Washington residents would be illegal under state law,” Newer said. “DFS has received some complaints and we follow up on all complaints. “We do have investigations pertaining to DFS.”

Later this month: Senate

The WSGC meeting comes a week before the state legislature again takes up DFS. State Sen. Michael Baumgartner, the chairman of the Commerce and Labor Committee, announced the news via Twitter.

There is no official agenda listed for the hearing on Nov. 20 at 8 a.m.

Earlier this year, a bill was introduced seeking to classify DFS as a skill game so that it could become legal under state law. However, when the bill was considered in the C&L committee in January, DFS was quickly identified as a gambling product by some lawmakers.

There has been no action on the bill since. The bill, SB 5284, will be discussed during the hearing, according to a press release from Baumgartner’s office. More from the release:

Baumgartner, chair of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee, plans a work session Nov. 20 to discuss proposals allowing operators of fantasy sports games to offer prize money. Options range from small-scale pools to the wide-open daily gaming offered on national websites.

“Thousands of Washington citizens break the law every day when they play fantasy sports games for prize money,” Baumgartner said. “When so many people ignore a law, we ought to recognize there’s a problem with it.”

 

“Millions of Americans enjoy playing in fantasy sports leagues,” Baumgartner said. “We need to decide whether this is really gambling or a game of skill. And if this is something the state ought to sanction, should we keep it at the level of the office pool? Or should we allow the wide-open daily gaming we see advertised on TV? I hear from people every day who think fantasy sports gaming ought to be legal in this state, and it’s about time we settle the question once and for all.”

Other states with DFS hearings this month

Both Pennsylvania and New Jersey are scheduled to hold committee meetings in their respective legislatures this month:

  • New Jersey will consider DFS in an Assembly committee hearing on Monday at 10 a.m. Eastern; there is no formally introduced bill, just draft legislation.
  • Pennsylvania will address DFS in the House Gaming Oversight Committee on Tuesday at 9 a.m. Eastern, and again on Nov. 19. The latter meeting will take place at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course.

A number of other states are considering regulatory bills.

 

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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.