Two Important States For Daily Fantasy Sports Industry Have New Bills

Written By Dustin Gouker on March 17, 2017
Ohio fantasy sports

[toc]Two of the bigger states for the daily fantasy sports industry saw new bills come to light this week: Ohio and Pennsylvania.

While DFS legality has never been a direct concern in either state, these are still two important jurisdictions for DraftKings, FanDuel and the rest of the DFS industry to gain legal clarity.

The Ohio fantasy sports bill

Ohio has not seen much momentum on the legalization of fantasy sports. But that appears set to change with the introduction of a new bill that would give the DFS industry a regulatory framework.

The new DFS bill

H 132 is much like the legislation that lawmakers have introduced in a variety of other states — and laws that were enacted in eight states in 2016.

The bill, at a glance:

  • Declares paid-entry fantasy sports to be a game of skill — not gambling — for the purposes of state law.
  • Gives oversight of paid-entry fantasy sports to the Ohio Casino Control Commission.
  • Establishes an initial licensing fee of $30,000 for operators.
  • Puts in place consumer protections regarding employee play, problem gaming, segregation of player funds and more.

The backstory on Ohio and DFS

Bills surfaced in 2016, but they didn’t go anywhere. One would have legalized DFS; the other would have declared games illegal when operators of contests take a cut of entry fees. (The latter would have covered the types of contests offered by DraftKings and FanDuel.)

An industry lobbyist said in testimony earlier this year — in testimony in another state — that Ohio islikely to pass a bill this year.” And while the DFS industry might be confident of the new bill winning approval, the process of enacting a law is rarely simple, no matter what the subject.

The PA fantasy sports bill

Pennsylvania also saw a new fantasy sports bill crop up in the state House of Representatives.

Until now, DFS has generally been lumped into an omnibus gambling expansion bill with a number of other provisions. That same legislation would also legalize PA online gambling.

The new bill would break DFS out on its own, although it’s not clear whether lawmakers are interested in handling it as a standalone effort. H 865 is another bill that is generally friendly to the industry, giving oversight to the PA Gaming Control Board.

Until we see movement on the bill outside of the larger gaming expansion, this bill might not be worth tracking, however.

Other states move forward, as well

Only one state has passed a DFS bill this year. Mississippi replaced a temporary law regulating the industry with a permanent one. Efforts for legalization have died in just one state — Kentucky.

Other noteworthy developments of late on fantasy sports legislation:

  • Texas now has bills in both chambers.
  • Iowa has a bill in the Senate, joining an earlier House bill. Iowa is a state where DFS has always been considered illegal.
  • Montana has a new bill study to the fantasy sports industry. Montana is another “black” state for DFS.
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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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