There Are Now Bills Dealing With Fantasy Sports In 40 Percent Of State Legislatures

Written By Dustin Gouker on February 16, 2017
Counting DFS bills

[toc]The interest in fantasy sports regulation hasn’t cooled off in 2017.

Bills that have something to do with fantasy sports have appeared in 20 of the 50 states by the midpoint of February, a pace that keeps it on par with legislative interest that picked up in 2016.

These bills are of varying importance and content for DraftKings, FanDuel and the rest of the fantasy sports industry. But it still speaks to the interest of state lawmakers of getting involved in the business of daily fantasy sports.

Lots of bills, not that much progress, yet

While there are lots of bills out there, not many of them have gone very far, so far. There have been some committee hearings and votes.

The one exception is Mississippi, where both the House and Senate passed legislation. The impetus for action there is a fantasy sports law enacted in 2016 that has a sunset provision for July of this year. The old law was basically a placeholder for a new law to be passed this year.

The fact that there hasn’t been a ton of progress isn’t surprising. The sausage-making of moving a bill through a legislature is rarely fast, especially early in a session. One would expect momentum to pick up in the spring and summer in many states. Even the state that acted fastest in 2016 — Virginia — didn’t pass a bill until March.

New bills for DFS

The newest bills regarding fantasy sports include:

  • Fantasy sports regulation as part of an omnibus gambling bill in Pennsylvania.
  • Industry-friendly bills being reintroduced in Illinois, bringing the total number of bills there to four. Efforts there fell short last year.
  • New legislation in Kentucky, where a bill was introduced but went nowhere in 2016.

Where there aren’t fantasy bills yet

It’s also interesting to examine where bills do not exist, yet:

  • California. After a fantasy sports bill passed the Assembly with just one “no” vote against it in 2016, legislation has stayed on the shelf. The legality of DFS is not at all clear, and it’s the largest state in terms of DFS users.
  • Arizona and Louisiana. These are two states where DFS has always been considered illegal, but efforts to change that status have met with resistance.
  • Minnesota and Michigan. These two states were interested in DFS regulation as far back as 2015. But no effort has popped up yet in 2017.
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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.

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