Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan And New Jersey Remain Possibilities For DFS Laws
Legal Sports Report

These State Legislatures Could Still Tackle Daily Fantasy Sports This Year

DFS state laws
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With less than three months left in the year, the legislative calendar has pretty much run out for daily fantasy sports in 2016.

While many states are anxious to get a jump on bills that would legalize and regulate DFS in 2017, there remain a handful of states where action could happen. Here’s the rundown:

Pennsylvania and DFS

The most likely state to act on DFS this year is Pennsylvania, but even that effort has stumbling blocks.

While the state House of Representatives has passed an omnibus gambling expansion package that included DFS regulation, the Senate has not yet taken up that bill. And time is short for that body to do so; it is scheduled to meet for only six more days before the November elections.

There are other moving parts in PA:

  • A recent state Supreme Court decision threw tax revenue for jurisdictions from PA casinos into chaos, and might make it more likely that the gambling expansion package is considered by the Senate this year.
  • A DFS-only bill recently passed a committee hearing in Pennsylvania, but the idea that DFS will be decoupled from online gambling and the rest of the package seems unlikely. That effort is further complicated by the fact that such a bill would also have to make its way through the House.

DFS has been talked about in the statehouse since 2015. And while DFS could still be on the table for 2016, it’s just as likely the effort will be put off until next year.

Ohio and DFS

Ohio got to the party late on DFS, but things ramped up quickly there.

The bill that was introduced — S 356 — would actually make any DFS contest illegal where an operator takes a cut of entry fees. That legislation has only been referred to committee. No competing legislation that would legalize and regulate DFS has yet surfaced in the state.

An attorney general memo in Ohio was non-committal on the legality of DFS under current state law, which doesn’t generate the need for immediate action from the DFS industry.

The bottom line: Ohio could take action this year, but that might not be likely given its late start.

Michigan and DFS

Michigan is another state where DFS has long been on some lawmakers’ radar, but little has happened.

A bill that would exempt fantasy sports contest with prize pools under $3,000 surfaced last month, but also hasn’t seen any action.

Michigan hasn’t been in any rush on the DFS front, and the odds say that will continue through the end of this year.

Legislation that would legalize online poker has also been considered in the statehouse this year.

NJ and DFS

The least likely state of all of the active legislatures to act is New Jersey.

State lawmakers have indicated they won’t move forward with legislation regarding DFS until the current NJ sports betting case is resolved. Since that case was just appealed to the US Supreme Court, action on DFS this year seems very unlikely.

Photo by Pennstatenews used under license CC BY-NC 2.0

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.
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