DFS news roundup: California bill advances to Senate with ease
By Dan Podheiser
Three weeks after the Internet Fantasy Sports Game Protection Act (AB 1437) passed through a committee hearing by a resounding 18-1 margin, the bill needed 54 votes to move onto the state Senate. The bill received the support it needed and more, receiving Assembly-wide approval on Wednesday by a 62-1 vote.
The lone dissenter in both votes was Assemblyman Marc Levine (D-San Rafael).
If the bill passes through the Senate, DFS companies would be able to operate in California after submitting to a background check and receiving a license from the state. Those companies would also have to pay an annual regulatory fee.
The push to regulate the daily fantasy sports industry in California has been backed heavily by owners of the state's professional sports franchises. The Assembly vote took place soon after the owners of the Los Angeles Lakers, Clippers and Galaxy, as well as the Sacramento Kings and San Francisco 49ers, urged lawmakers to support the bill.
Several of the California professional sports teams have existing business partnerships with either DraftKings or FanDuel.
• While California seems to be on the right track for DFS regulation, a Los Angeles Times editorial called for the state to license and regulate all forms of online gambling, not just DFS. And up north, the Modesto Bee released an editorial calling for the exact same thing.
• In Hawaii, Attorney General Doug Chin issued a formal advisory opinion stating that DFS contests constitute illegal gambling under existing state laws. The Department of the Attorney General is currently weighing its next steps, including whether or not to impose criminal or civil enforcement on DFS companies that operate in the state.
• In Florida, HB 707: Requirements for Operation of Fantasy Contests passed through two state committee hearings Wednesday. While HB 707 was originally filed in November 2015, it has since been amended. The current version both increases the amount of work and the size of the surety bond potential DFS operators must produce before they can receive a license.
• In Oregon, a class-action lawsuit was filed in federal court against DraftKings and FanDuel, alleging the fantasy sports companies violated Oregon law by operating illegal sports betting in the state. The lawsuit, Brandon Peck v. DraftKings and FanDuel, was brought by Peck on behalf of himself and 100 other Oregon players who claimed to have lost money in the past three years playing DFS contests on DraftKings and FanDuel.
• Toward the end of 2015, Massachusetts looked to be leading the way in the race for states to begin regulating daily fantasy sports. And while the DFS industry was generally supportive of the regulations proposed by Attorney General Maura Healey in November, it's now coming out that industry representatives are not happy with a few of the stipulations in the proposed legislation. Namely, the industry is not happy that the regulations call for DFS players to be 21 years old, not 18, and that users won't be able to play real-money contests based on college games.
• Finally, in an attempt to level the playing field and balance its "ecology," DraftKings announced last week that it will no longer allow the use of outside computer scripts. The operator also plans to implement a system that will allow users to identify "experienced" players.