Nebraska Continues to Debate Daily Fantasy Sports

by Kyle Miller

Nebraska StateIf a state is not discussing casino or poker gaming, then they are debating daily fantasy sports, an activity on the mind of Nebraska legislators.

Daily fantasy sports is a hot topic of debate in the United States. For years, players have had access to the contests via suppliers like FanDuel and DraftKings. However, in late 2015, New York State decided to define the activity as illegal gambling and many states followed suit. States that named the activity and illegal one have either stayed with that decision or created legislation in which government officials can regulate the industry. In 2016, many states legalized the activity and this year, other states have DFS on the brain, including Nebraska.

The Nebraska Debate Heats Up

Those opposed and in favor of daily fantasy sports in Nebraska continue to go head to head in regards to the activity. Both sides cannot seem to come to an agreement as to what should take place. According to the Omaha World Herald, FanDuel and DraftKings have continued to argue that there is a need for legislation so consumers are protected. Legislative Bill 469 would provide such protections.

According to the DFS operators, there are 300,000 players in the state. The main argument seems to be whether or not DFS is a game of chance or skill. The operators of the activity argue that the games require skill as members will draft players and research opponents as they create their fantasy lineups. A representative of FanDuel, Sean Ostrow, stated that DFS is not an expansion of gambling.

The current constitution of the state does not allow wagering to take place on games of chance. Horse racing, lottery and pickle cards are the only exception. Basically, if the game were to be ruled one of skill, then it could essentially be legal in the state.

Previous Legislation Attempts

In 2016, State Senator Tyson Larson introduced legislation for DFS gaming but the bill was pulled when Larson realized he did not have the backing to see the bill move forward. Legislative Bill 469 was then introduced by Larson later on which has fantasy sports defined as a game of skill.

The bill also includes a provision where the companies offers DFS must pay annual fees to the state Department of Revenue. This money would be used to cover expenses of law enforcement. DraftKings has shown support for this portion of the measure as well as limiting players who compete to 19 years of age or older.

Those in favor of the legislation have pointed out that eight states in the US already have passed legislation similar to Larson’s bill, including Missouri and Colorado. However, those opposed, like the Nebraska Family Alliance, have pointed out that eleven states have also made the activity illegal. Many feel that factors involved in the outcome of the game such as player injuries or decisions by the coach make the activity one of chance.

Basically, the fight comes down to skill or chance, just like it always seems to come to when discussing gambling activities. When poker is being discussed, often times this argument comes up as well. Lawmakers are going to have to decide how they see the game and what they wish to accomplish. While some see the contests as an activity that must not be allowed, others see the contests as a fun pastime where you can earn prizes and rewards, with benefits included for the state. It will be interesting to see if the bill can move forward or if the state will continue to be one in limbo when it comes to DFS gaming.