Attention turns to states like Texas, Florida for DFS legality
Legal Sports Report

Georgia Punts On Fantasy Sports Legalization Until Next Year

Georgia fantasy sports
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The daily fantasy sports industry came very close to reaching the end zone on legalization in a key state.

But the effort to regulate paid-entry fantasy sports in Georgia came up just short, as the state legislature adjourned on Thursday without sending a bill to the governor.

What happened to DFS in Georgia

The bill to legalize DFS was earlier approved by the House. It was ready to be taken up by the full Senate as of this week. But the chamber didn’t even bring it up for a vote.

Why not? Legal Sports Report understands the proponents of the bill were unsure they had the votes to pass it. Rather than risk putting up for a vote and failing, the bill will sit idle for a year.

This wasn’t necessarily bad news for the DFS industry, as the statehouse will take up the bill again in January. The bill does not have to start from scratch; the full Senate could take up the fantasy sports bill when it reconvenes.

“We had some more work to do, but the bill advanced a long, long way and the progress will not go to waste,” Marc La Vorgna, a spokesperson for DraftKings and FanDuel, told LSR. “It’s a two year session, so we will build on the work from this year and we get to pick up right where we left off — effectively starting on third base when the legislature comes back into session.”

Fantasy sports had also been tacked onto a different tax bill, at one point, but the language had also been pulled from that bill.

While DFS operates in a gray area in Georgia, the long-term view of gaining legal clarity is more important than pushing a bill through right this second.

Georgia is more important than other states for DFS

The “gray” of Georgia is certainly more pronounced than it is in other states.

DraftKings, FanDuel and other operators generally serve the state despite a privately issued memo from the state’s attorney general saying DFS is likely illegal gambling in the state.

The AG never said anything publicly about DFS, nor did he ask operators to cease and desist in the state, like some other AGs have.

Of interest: the AG has changed since that memo. Chris Carr is the new state AG.

All of that makes Georgia more important than your average state, when it comes to DFS.

The landscape for DFS legality

Georgia is just one of a variety of states considering fantasy sports bills in 2017.

The industry also posted a victory on Friday, as a bill cleared the Arkansas Senate; the fantasy sports bill will likely head to the governor as soon as next week.

Attention next moves to Texas daily fantasy sports, as a House hearing is scheduled for Monday. Beyond that, bills around the country have advanced in a variety of states, as the spring figures to be a busy one for fantasy sports legislation.

Right now, the number of states where DFS is legal still lags behind the number of states that both DraftKings and FanDuel do not serve. (The only caveat is Texas, where DraftKings takes users but FanDuel does not.)

Legal/regulated DFS

  • New York
  • Massachusetts
  • Tennessee
  • Mississippi
  • Colorado
  • Missouri
  • Indiana
  • Virginia
  • Kansas
  • Maryland

States where DFS sites don’t operate

  • Washington
  • Iowa
  • Montana
  • Arizona
  • Louisiana
  • Vermont
  • Alabama
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Nevada (DFS is legal but requires a gaming license)
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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