FanDuel Creates Advocacy Group To Push For Louisiana DFS Ballot Measure

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Louisiana DFS

A new advocacy group in Louisiana pushing to legalize daily fantasy sports appears to be backed solely by FanDuel, according to financial disclosure forms.

FanDuel contributed $154,000 on September 26 to Fairness for Fantasy Sports (FFS). The only other contribution to the group is a $250 entry from the political consultant managing it.

Who is behind Fairness for Fantasy Sports?

According to its website, the group was created by state residents to educate voters on the importance of taxing and regulating Louisiana DFS. In reality, it’s all FanDuel.

Political consultant Ryan Berni, a one-time staffer for former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, heads the effort. His group, Berni Consulting, represents a number of local efforts in Louisiana.

Neither Berni nor FanDuel could be reached for comment.

What’s on the November ballot?

Authored by Rep. Kirk Talbot, House Bill 484 was one of three gaming bills passed during Louisiana’s legislative session. Signed by Gov. John Bel Edwards in May, the bill authorizes a statewide, parish-by-parish proposition to legalize fantasy sports contests.

According to the bill:

“if a majority of the qualified electors in the parish voting on the proposition vote for the proposition, then fantasy sports contest shall be permitted – subject to the enactment of licensing, regulation and taxation.”

In other words, Louisiana DFS could become legal in small and unconnected parts of the statee depending on how the vote goes.

Industry supportive of the Lousiana DFS bill

Peter Schoenke, president of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, said everyone in the fantasy sports industry supports the ballot initiative on Louisiana DFS.

“This initiative opens up the state to all paid fantasy sports contest, not just daily fantasy sports but season long contest as well,” Schoenke told LSR on Monday.

The legislation is fairly straightforward. Should even a single parish vote to legalize Louisiana DFS, a new bill must be introduced to determine tax rates, licensing fees, and geofencing restrictions.

How do you geofence this county but not that one?

Ronnie Jones, chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board (LGCB) said the most complex issue will be financing for geofencing.

“There are 64 parishes in Louisiana. Say only a quarter of them vote yes on the referendum – can you imagine how complicated that will be to carve out individual parishes,” Jones said. “Nobody is talking about what it might cost to implement geo-fencing.”

Jones anticipates Talbot will introduce a companion bill next year that will establish tax rates and any additional fees. Schoenke said there have been discussions about model legislation but the main focus has been the election.

“A lot of those details need to be worked out afterwards,” he said.

The bill also includes:

Look ahead at Louisiana gaming legislation

Other gaming bills that passed this year include Senate Bill 316, which will allow the states 15 riverboat casinos to make the move landside. Senate Bill 184 will loosen the restrictions for truck stops that qualify for video poker machines.

While DFS made its way onto the November ballot, a number of other gaming bills failed to progress through the state legislature.

Bills to allow for online gambling and sports betting ultimately were shelved for the year.

Jones said he anticipates sports betting to be a huge topic for 2019 now that neighboring Mississippi is the only state in the South with legal sports betting.

“People in southeast Louisiana are headed to the coast every weekend,” Jones said.

A Senate committee hearing to discuss various gaming topics including sports betting is schedule for October 24.