Alabama House Approves Fantasy Sports Bill

by Kyle Miller

The latest state to pass fantasy sports legislation is Alabama as the House votes in approval 43-38.

Fantasy sports seems to be the top online gambling activity as of late, when it comes to legislation moving forward. While many states are considering online casino and poker legislation, bills on the table are not making any headway. Hawaii, Pennsylvania, California, New York and many others have considered legislation only to see bills stall and not progress forward. However, as far as fantasy sports are concerned, several states have already passed legislation to legalize the option as well as impose regulations on the activity. The latest to see movement of a fantasy sports bill is the state of Alabama.

Surprising Move

AlabamaAlabama is one of the more conservative states in the US so it was surprising to see that a bill that includes a gaming option was able to move forward. The state offers very little gambling activities for residents with no state lottery and only a three gaming venues, one of which has had difficulty staying open due to strict regulations on gambling.

This week, the House of Representatives were considering a bill that would legalize as well as put regulations in place for fantasy sports gaming. While the meeting was taking place, the House decided to not vote on the measure in the beginning. However, a problem with the voting machine in the chamber led to longer time spent in their seats and the bill was up for discussion once again.

After almost two hours, House members decided to vote and it would be a close one. The bill would garner 43 votes to the positive and only 38 NO votes so the measure will move forward now to the Senate for consideration. The main point of contention during the discussion was whether or not the activity is one of skill or one of chance. Legislators chose skill and approved the measure by a narrow margin.

More about the Proposed Legislation

HB354 is one of three bills that have been proposed in the state in regards to fantasy sports betting. Known as the Fantasy Sports Act, the bill is sponsored by Representative Alan Boothe and would require an operator of fantasy sports that has more than 5,000 active player accounts to pay an upfront registration fee of $85,000. Any operator with less than 5,000 active players would pay only $10,000.

The gross revenues of fantasy sports operators would be taxed at rates that are compared to what Tennessee has in place and what is currently being considered in Georgia. It is suggested that a 6% tax will be placed on the fantasy sports revenues earned the first year after the bill is approved. It is believed that just over $200,000 will be added to the General Fund if legalization of the industry takes place.

However, it may be slow going for the measure. Since it took the House almost two hours to barely pass the bill, the Senate may not even put the measure to a vote. The members of the Senate do not seem as concerned about fantasy sports gaming though an additional source of revenue is needed for the state in any way, shape or form.

Currently, eleven states in the US have decided to legalize daily fantasy sports. These states include:

It will be interesting to see if the Senate also passes the bill and if Alabama will become the next name on the list of states that offer legalized daily fantasy sports gaming.