Super Wednesday For Daily Fantasy Sports: Four Bills In One Day, Including Key Vote In Florida

Written By Dustin Gouker on January 27, 2016 - Last Updated on February 3, 2016
DFS bills in play 4 states

[toc]This story will be updated as votes occur and as events warrant.

Daily fantasy sports had one its busiest days ever on the legislative front, with bills being considered in four states on Wednesday.

The states where DFS legislation was under consideration, all on the same day:

  • The floor of the California Assembly.
  • Committees in both houses in Florida.
  • Committees in both houses in Indiana.
  • A committee in Wisconsin.

Florida and DFS bills

The Senate Regulated Industries Committee passed SB 832 out of committee on Wednesday with wide support (8-2) — minus that of the committee chairman, Rob Bradley. A few hours later, the House version of the bill — HB 707 — also passed a committee hearing.

The daily fantasy sports industry has been working hard to keep — or make — DFS legal in Florida in recent months. Draft legislation was floated late last year, and the industry has reportedly spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on lobbying and political contributions.

Legislation made it past an initial committee vote in the Assembly earlier this month.

Since then, Sen. Joe Negron, the bill’s sponsor (along with Rep. Matt Gaetz),  made a major revision to the bill that tightened up the bill’s language and increased the regulatory measures in the bill:

  • The bill now creates the Office of Amusements within the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. The new office is given wide powers in dealing with and overseeing daily fantasy sports operators, and provides a means to revoke licenses.
  • While it did not change the licensing fee from $500,000 initially and $100,000 annually thereafter, the bill says smaller operators would be asked to pay no more than “10 percent of the amount of entry fees collected by a contest operator from the operation of fantasy contests in this state, less the amount of cash or cash equivalents paid to contest  participants.”
  • The bill increases the amount of front-end work required to obtain a license, including submitting the fingerprints of anyone considered a director or an officer of a DFS operator.
  • Operators must “provide evidence of a surety bond in the amount of $1 million, payable to the state, furnished by a corporate surety authorized to do business.”

Negron indicated that he would work to add language about geolocation to the bill (i.e. sites should have the means to block players in states where DFS is not legal.)

Industry lobbyist Jeremy Kudon told Legal Sports Report that DraftKings and FanDuel are supportive of the amended bill.

The bill was considered on the same day that the Seminole gaming compact was being talked about in the committee. A representative for the Seminoles previously indicated that the tribe believes that DFS is gambling; that stance has not yet manifested itself in much visible opposition to the regulatory bill.

California DFS bill

The DFS regulatory bill (AB 1437) in California — introduced by Assemblymember Adam Gray — last year has picked up a lot of momentum in January. The legislation passed out of the Governmental Organization committee nearly unanimously in January and later passed unopposed out of the Appropriations committee.

That momentum continued this week as the bill passed the full Assembly and now moves on to the Senate. It needed a two-thirds majority of 54 votes to pass the chamber, and it was approved 62-1.

Assemblymember Marc Levine, a vocal opponent of the DFS industry, was the only “no” vote.

In the background of the California DFS effort are a couple of items of interest:

  • Some tribal interests in the state indicated they would be pushing back against regulation of DFS moving ahead of online poker, but that opposition has not resulted in stopping the progress of the bill.
  • Levine wrote a letter to Attorney General Kamala Harris in November, asking her to look at the legality of DFS. He indicated that he believed DFS is illegal under state law. The status of any such review is unknown. Several lawmakers mentioned a possible AG’s opinion regarding the legality of DFS — and whether a constitutional amendment would be needed to regulate DFS in the state.

Indiana and DFS bills

Indiana was scheduled to consider parallel bills in committee hearings on Wednesday — SB 339 and HB 1168. As a procedural matter, the House bill was stripped of the DFS language, but the Senate version passed unanimously out of committee.

It appears, like the proposed Massachusetts DFS regulations, that college contests could be excluded.

The chief sponsor of the House version — Rep. Alan Morrison — has been considering the DFS industry for more than a year and has been spearheading the legislative effort in the state.

Wisconsin and DFS bill

A bill — AB 800 — surfaced within the last week. The bill offers basic regulation of the industry and consumer protections.

No vote was taken on Wednesday; the bill was just the subject of a public hearing.

The bill’s author — Rep. Tyle Vorpagel — spoke on behalf of the bill during Wednesday’s hearing. Fantasy Sports Trade Association chairman Peter Schoenke appeared on behalf of the industry.

Several lawmakers questioned whether fantasy sports are actually games of skill, and there were also concerns of whether the bill could run afoul of the state constitution.

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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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