Daily Double: Ohio House, Pennsylvania Senate Pass Fantasy Sports Bills

Written By Dustin Gouker on May 24, 2017
Ohio fantasy sports

[toc]The Pennsylvania Senate and Ohio House both passed bills legalizing and regulating paid-entry fantasy sports on Wednesday.

Those bills advanced shortly after New Jersey’s Assembly passed a similar piece of fantasy sports legislation this week.

It represented a very good week for daily fantasy sports legalization efforts led by FanDuel and DraftKings.

Ohio and DFS

There had been chatter on Ohio for much of this year, but the rubber finally met the road. H 132 passed the House by an overwhelming margin, 80-15.

The bill now heads to the Senate.

Ohio has not been a state where DFS’ legality has been truly in question. However, the state’s attorney general told the legislature it might want to act:

It is unclear whether DFS websites, as currently operating, violate R.C. Chapter 2915. Due to this lack of clarity, and the variety of laws DFS implicates, the General Assembly may want to address this issue.

A fantasy sports industry lobbyist said earlier this year that Ohio was likely to enact a law to regulate fantasy sports. Now we’ll look to see if the bill has smooth sailing in the upper chamber.

Pennsylvania and DFS

Pennsylvania’s Senate passed a large gaming bill on Wednesday. That bill — more than 200 pages — contains all manner of new gaming provisions, including the legalization of PA online poker, PA online casinos and online lottery games.

Part of that bill: Regulation of DFS.

The cost for operators, as the bill is written, is not trivial. Operators pay the lesser of $50,000 or 7.5 percent of gross revenue in the state to gain licensure. The minimum payment is $5,000. Operators are then taxed at a rate of 12 percent after being licensed.

Fantasy sports is just one moving part in a complex gaming bill. But if the bill survives in its current form, another big state can be added to the list of states that have given legal clarity to DFS.

Wins after setbacks for DFS

The week turned around what had been turning into a bleak spring for DFS. The industry recently suffered legislative setbacks in several important states:

  • Texas: FanDuel does not serve the state while DraftKings does. Legalization is off the table until 2019.
  • Florida: A bill failed to pass in a state with a gray legal climate.
  • Alabama: DraftKings and FanDuel do not serve the state, and won’t unless there is a change in the status quo.

Also on the good side of the ledger: Vermont’s legislature recently passed DFS legislation, which is still not law until signed by the governor. Arkansas earlier enacted a law to legalize DFS.

But momentum in three large states is some of the best news DFS legalization has seen 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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