DFS Debate Continues in the US

by Jim Hall

DFSIn the United States, the online casino and poker debate seems to have taken a back seat to the daily fantasy sports betting industry. Lawmakers across the US are currently reviewing existing legislation as well as considering whether the activity is considered illegal or legal within their given state.

Daily fantasy sports betting have easily overtaken online casino and poker gaming as the hot topic of debate. Since last year, individual states in the US have begun looking at the activity and trying to decide if the contests are legal or illegal based on current state laws. While some states have left the activity as is, others are taking strides to put regulations in place or ban the activity altogether.

The state of Massachusetts is the latest to legalize the activity, this time with DFS included in an economic development package. Governor of the state, Charlie Baker, signed the $1 billion package into law yesterday which will pave the way for daily fantasy sports to become legal.

The Massachusetts DFS Legislation

There is a provision of the bill that speaks specifically to the DFS industry. In the measure, the language reads that a fantasy contest is not considered illegal gaming based on the fact that the activity falls under skill-based games. Fantasy sports operators who offer real money contests will have to abide by a list of consumer protections. This list was created by Maura Healey, the Attorney General for the state, last year.

The new law also states that an operator can offer these contests for real money until the 31st of July in 2018. No fees or taxes will be taken from the business based on the regulations in place and new law. Healey’s regulations were used as a directional guidance according to Baker on the measure, allowing companies such as FanDuel and DraftKings to continue offering services in the state.

DraftKings is actually based in Boston and was very happy upon receiving the news. Jason Robins, the CEO of the company, stated that the law being signed is a real sign of helping the company stay based in Massachusetts and allows the company to call the state home.

Florida Not Doing So Hot with DFS

Lobbyists in the state of Florida hoping for the same outcome as Massachusetts were not so lucky. Lawmakers in the state recently heard from lobbyists representing the DFS industry in the hopes that the gray status of the industry will finally be cleared up. Back in March, a proposal was made to see fantasy sports regulated in the state but the bill died quickly after lawmakers choose not to vote on the measure based on the gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe.

Governor of the state, Rick Scott, was afraid that a standalone bill for DFS would have the Seminole Tribe thinking that their compact with the state had been broken. If the measure had been passed, operators of DFS gaming would have had to pay $500,000 for registration as well as $100,000 each year as renewal fees.

So for now, the ball keeps rolling in regards to the daily fantasy sports industry. States are showing interest and for the most part it seems that legislation is being created to allow such sites to operate as well as protect consumers at the same time. In many states, lawmakers are considering allowing DFS so that they can begin to build proposals for online casino and poker gaming. The daily fantasy sports industry is being seen as a gateway for states to enter other avenues of online gaming.

It will be interesting to watch in the coming months as other states propose legislation. Who will be the next to legalize the daily fantasy sports industry?