Texas Taking Another Swing At Legalizing Daily Fantasy Sports

Posted on November 18, 2020 - Last Updated on November 17, 2020

A Texas state representative appears determined to legalize daily fantasy sports, which are already being played in the state.

Rep. Joe Moody filed HB 393, which would define daily fantasy sports as a game of skill and make it legal to win prizes in DFS contests.

The bill doesn’t offer a pathway for potential sports betting in Texas though. Moody specifically states the outcome of a contest cannot be based on the performance of a single sports team or athlete.

Should it pass, HB 393 would go into effect Sept. 1, 2021.

Try, try again to legalize daily fantasy sports in Texas

It could be an uphill battle for Moody and his DFS bill when it comes to the opposite chamber. Moody and others sponsored HB 2303 in 2019, which is an identical bill to next year’s HB 393.

It handily passed the House on a 116-26 vote but was never acted upon in the Senate.

Texas only holds regular legislative session in odd-numbered years, so there was no attempt to legalize DFS this year.

Daily fantasy sports already played in Texas

Both DraftKings and FanDuel accept players from Texas, so Moody isn’t exactly ushering a new industry into the Lone Star State.

Moody’s bill simply defines DFS contests as games of skill, not chance. If they were games of chance they would be considered illegal under Texas law.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a non-binding opinion in 2016 that called DFS contests gambling.

“The law itself in the penal code isn’t clear whether you can grab up the conduct of close to 4 million Texans and have it criminalized,” he told the Austin American-Statesman in 2019.

How necessary is HB 393?

With no regulatory scheme or taxation plan proposed, HB 393 doesn’t really affect DFS on the industry side. It’s more about protecting constituents.

Moody told the American-Statesman he didn’t know of any Texan that had been prosecuted for entering a DFS contest, but still felt the bill was necessary.

“As a former prosecutor and understanding that discretion lies with a couple hundred prosecutors across the state, it doesn’t take but one person who thinks this is wrong to ring up a whole bunch of people,” he said in the interview.

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Matthew Waters

Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.

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