No Joy In Iowa For Daily Fantasy Sports, As Bill Is Not Likely To Pass

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It looked like the daily fantasy sports industry was headed for victory in Iowa at one point.

But one of the five states where DFS has always been considered illegal in the US looks like it will stay that way.

Latest on Iowa and DFS

The Iowa legislature is likely to wrap up its work for the session this week. One of the matters still alive is fantasy sports: Namely, legalizing and regulating it.

Just a few weeks ago, the bill’s sponsor — Rep. Matt Windschitl — was optimistic that the bill would reach the finish line.

But with the session winding down, it is look like the bill is dead for this year. More from a Gazette story this week.

Windschitl said he supports the proposal, but enough opposition remains that he does not think it will pass the House this session.

Windschitl said the primary concerns raised are with an expansion of gambling and a desire for any such expansion to be controlled by casinos.

Given the short time and the lack of recent activity on the bill, it looks like legal fantasy sports will have to wait another year.

Backstory on Iowa fantasy sports

State gambling law has precluded DraftKings, FanDuel, Yahoo, FantasyDraft and others from operating in the state since the industry started.

There are four other states that have never had paid-entry DFS contests:

None of these four have ever come very close to legalizing DFS. A study bill in Montana with repercussions for DFS failed this year. Fantasy sports legislation in the other three states has been introduced in recent years, with little momentum.

DFS sites now don’t operate in more than just those five states after negative attorney general opinions in recent years.

Other states on DFS’ radar

The DFS industry has successfully enacted laws in Mississippi (updating a 2016 law and making it permanent) and Arkansas this year. There are 11 states that have passed laws legalizing fantasy sports, nine of them since the start of 2016.

A number of state legislatures wrap up in April, but none of them are of primary concern to the DFS industry.

May is the big month to watch for, as the statehouses in Florida, Texas and Illinois are among those slated to finish their work for the session. Those are three big states where the industry would like to get legal clarity.