Roll Tide? Alabama House Passes Daily Fantasy Sports Bill In A Cliffhanger

Written By Dustin Gouker on April 18, 2017 - Last Updated on April 19, 2017
Alabama fantasy sports

[toc]Fantasy sports legislation in Alabama got through a nail-biter in the state legislature on Tuesday.

Alabama and DFS

The state House passed a bill that would legalize and regulate paid-entry fantasy sports in the state. That includes daily fantasy sports sites like DraftKings and FanDuel. The bill has not yet been to the Senate.

Alabama is one of a variety of states that DFS operators do not serve, because of a negative legal climate. The state attorney general told DraftKings and FanDuel to cease operations there last year, and they obliged.

An effort to legalize DFS failed in 2016.

The Alabama House takes action

It was a wild day for the DFS bill. In the end, however, state representatives approved the bill, 43-38. But before it did, here’s what went down:

  • The bill initially appeared to have been prevented from even coming up for a vote in a procedural move. Initially, the House declared that the bill would not come up for full debate or an up-and-down vote, and it moved on to another bill. But there was apparently an issue with the voting machine in the chamber, showing the wrong totals. The bill then came back up for consideration.
  • Debate on the bill last nearly two hours, and included all manners of speeches and questioning among the members. Whether DFS is gambling was a central point of contention. Among the most entertaining parts of the debate occurred when one member declared he had a list of representatives that gamble on college football games. Presumably he meant to point out the hypocrisy of being against DFS on the grounds that it is gambling. (That list was not read, if it existed.)
  • The bill’s sponsor was not there to shepherd the legislation, to be with a sick family member.

The Senate is up next

Alabama’s DFS bill heads to the Senate next, where its prospects are not known.

Given the close vote in the House, expect more debate and nail-biting from the DFS industry lobby pushing the bill. But DraftKings, FanDuel and other DFS operators are one step closer to turning around a state that they don’t currently serve.

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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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