As NFL Season Begins, Lawmakers Eye Legalizing Daily Fantasy Sports

Posted on September 14, 2016
Written By on September 14, 2016

[toc]This year for DraftKings and FanDuel had to be considered a success on the legislative front.

Thanks to the two sites’ lobbyists, eight states passed laws formally legalizing and regulating daily fantasy sports. That includes a pair of states — New York and Mississippi — where state attorneys general said DFS contests were illegal.

And while most legislatures have adjourned until after the November elections, some lawmakers are already eagerly looking ahead to next year. Here’s a roundup of chatter that’s already surfaced; these jurisdictions will likely be joined by an array of statehouses who took up the issue this year but didn’t pass a bill.

Illinois and DFS

Illinois will take another stab at legalizing DFS, it appears.

The bill introduced by Rep. Mike Zalewski died in the spring, but he is still championing the need for regulation of the industry. He recently penned an op-ed in the Chicago Sun-Times.

The effort ran into problems because the casino lobby in the state didn’t want to see the bill passed. That dynamic will likely be back in play when the bill resurfaces.

Illinois is also one of the states with a negative AG opinion where many operators still take users for real-money contests.

Iowa and DFS

Iowa is one of five states where DFS has always been considered to be clearly illegal by almost everyone. Early in 2015, an effort picked up steam to change that, but it lost momentum. A bill this year met a similar fate.

Now, Iowa can be added to the list of states that will tackle the issue again.

From KCRG in Iowa:

State Senator Jeff Danielson from Waterloo sponsored a bill to legalize fantasy sports betting last legislative session, but it failed in the house. He plans on bringing it back when lawmakers meet again in January.

Will things be different this time around in Iowa, and will the DFS industry succeed in adding Iowans to their potential user base? The answer to that will come in 2017.

Texas and DFS

Texas’ legislature had this year off, but the issue is on the agenda for next year.

The Lone Star State is an important battleground, with the opinion from state AG Ken Paxton looming over the industry’s head. (FanDuel does not accept real-money players in the state, while DraftKings does.)

Texas is the most important state to watch legislatively next year, given that backdrop.

New Mexico and DFS

New Mexico obviously isn’t a big state in terms of DFS users. But it appears that there will be a lot of attention paid to it next year.

From the Albuquerque Journal:

“There isn’t a straight answer right now,” said House Majority Leader Nate Gentry, the Republican legislator from Albuquerque who was one of two lawmakers to introduce a bill last session to try to legalize, though with consumer protections in place, daily fantasy play in the state.

Nether of those bills – one in the House of Representatives and one in the Senate – was acted on during the 30-day session last winter, but both are likely to resurface next session.

That report also notes that the New Mexico Gaming Control Board views DFS as illegal. The AJ’s editorial board also revealed that attorney general Hector Balderas has been looking into the issue for a year.

What’s still going on in 2016

Things haven’t quite wrapped up this year, legislatively:

  • Pennsylvania may consider regulation of DFS this fall in the context of a larger gambling expansion package.
  • DFS has been on Michigan’s radar since 2015, but a new bill was just introduced in September. It does not regulate DFS; instead it excludes from the state’s gambling code fantasy contests that meet UIGEA standards and have prize pools under $3,000.
  • New Jersey is still in active, but it appears unlikely that a bill will get a real push this year.
Dustin Gouker Avatar
Written by
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.

View all posts by Dustin Gouker
Privacy Policy