California Daily Fantasy Sports Hearing Frames Legislative Debate Moving Forward

Written By Dustin Gouker on December 16, 2015 - Last Updated on February 2, 2016
California DFS hearing

[toc]California held a hearing regarding daily fantasy sports on Wednesday, helping to frame the legislature’s approach to the DFS industry moving forward.

The hearing was held in the Committee on Governmental Organization, which generally tackles the topic of gaming.

The full agenda and witness list can be seen here.

The background of the DFS debate in California

Assemblymember Adam Gray, who also chairs the GO committee, introduced a bill seeking to legalize and regulate DFS in September — before any of the increased media and government scrutiny began in October. DFS sites would need to be licensed under Gray’s bill.

Gray, in an interview in October, noted that he was not in a rush to pass regulation legislation.

Also in play in California: The attorney general, Kamala Harris, has been asked to review the legal status of DFS in the state.

Taking the temperature of California lawmakers

The lawmakers generally held their cards close to the vest. There were 12 assemblymembers in attendance, any by Legal Sports Report’s count, only six asked questions:

  • Gray generally took a middle ground, asking questions that were meant to further inform himself on the industry. Gray, based on his bill, would like to regulate the industry.
  • Marc Levine has asked the AG to look into the legality of DFS, and said during the hearing he believes DFS is gambling.
  • Eric Linder, the committee’s vice chair, and several others spoke and asked questions briefly, and were most interested in the players panel.

The committee hearing stood in stark contrast to those held in New York and New Jersey, which were sometimes contentious in the interactions between lawmakers and industry representatives.

There was no outright talk of banning DFS in the state, and like the states that have held hearings previously, it seems like regulation is the most likely legislative track in the state.

Summary of testimony

The committee put together a wide-ranging group of witnesses that encompassed most of the angles of the industry; much of the testimony had been covered during hearings in other states:

  • Chris Grove of Legal Sports Report and Eilers Research, Chris Krafcik of Gambling Compliance and Rebecca Bitzer of the state’s legislative counsel gave the current state and legal background of DFS.
  • Representatives from some California professional sports leagues — of the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors in the NBA, and the Los Angeles Kings of the NHL were invited to appear in front of the committee and talked about marketing efforts and fan engagement via daily fantasy sports. The NBA’s Sacramento Kings and the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers also asked to enter testimony into the record in front of the committee.
  • Representatives from the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, DraftKings, FanDuel and California-based Fantasy Aces all gave testimony on the industry.
  • A consumer panel, including top DFS pro Cory Albertson (aka “RayOfHope”), spoke as well, offering the DFS player perspective.
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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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