Daily Fantasy Sports Bill Emerges in the State of Maine
State Senator Roger Katz is sponsoring a bill to regulate daily fantasy sports in Maine. If passed, the bill would make Maine the 9th U.S. state to pass DFS regulations.
Sen. Katz is required to submit a detailed proposal, but not a full itemized bill. Therefore, it is known that Katz wants to legalize, regulate, and tax daily fantasy sports. It is uncertain what key details might be involved in the process. Lawmakers are expected to attend to issues like tax rate, along with the question of whether DFS is considered a skill or chance-based game in Maine.
National Conference of State Legislatures
Maine lawmakers were in Chicago last week at the National Conference of State Legislatures. Representatives of the daily fantasy sports industry were at the conference, and reportedly the Maine lawmakers took an opportunity to meet with the DFS officials.
An estimated 57 million Americans play fantasy sports each year in the United States, representing almost 1/6th of the population. DraftKings and FanDuel are the chief purveyors of daily fantasy sports, a niche within the wider fantasy sports industry. DFS operators charge $2 billion a year in entry fees for contests, but that number is expected to increase to $14 billion by the year 2020. While Maine’s percentage of the revenue is relatively small, its potential tax revenues from a regulated and taxed DFS industry could be substantial.
Maine’s Attorney General
It is unknown how top officials in the executive branch of Maine’s government stand on the DFS issue. Maine’s State Attorney General Janet Mills has said there are a number of issues which need to be addressed in any DFS legislation. It is unknown if AG Mills’ concerns are minor and technical in nature, or if she is oppsed to DFS gaming on some more fundamental level.
Janet Mills said in a statement in the Bangor Daily News that she was concerned about the risk factors of daily fantasy sports. Mills sounded like she knew fantasy sports fairly closely, because she referred to the idea that some fantasy football owners join many leagues. At the same time, she focused on the worst-case scenario for a fantasy sports gambler–wrecking a family’s finances through problem gaming habits.
Janet Mills’s Opinion
In the Bangor newspaper, Janet Mills said, “It’s fun to, you know, to pretend you are the manager of a gazillion teams, you are going to put this quarterback together with this linebacker, this, that and the other thing. That can be a lot of fun, but when it comes to putting a lot of money at risk, and putting your family savings at risk, that’s something that causes me great concern.”
Mills’s Policy Suggestions
From her statement, it appeared that Janet Mills is more concerned about having strong regulations than squelching the DFS industry. She said she wanted to have limits on the amount of gaming which can be done, along with safeguards for the sake of underage players.
Mills also stated she wanted to have clear disclaimers on the sites, to show players the real odds of the game. Despite these somewhat intrusive suggestions, the Maine attorney general did indicate she thought regulated DFS gaming could generate significant revenue for the state.
Paul LaPage’s Signature
It is unknown how Gov. Paul LaPage is going to approach daily fantasy sports. The Republican governor is known for his combative nature. His favorite pet is named “Veto”, a reference to how often the governor slams the door shut on legislation. While there is no indication Gov. LaPage would oppose DFS legislation, he is considered a bit of a wild card in any scenario.
Daily Fantasy Sports and State Laws
Daily fantasy sports has been a hot-button issue at the state level of government in the United States over the past year. In October 2015, a data leaking scandal hit DraftKings and FanDuel. This prompted state attorney generals in Nevada, New York, Illinois, and Texas to ban daily fantasy sports in their states. U.S. Attorneys in New York and Florida also discussed opening probes.
In response, over 20 states have discussed legalizing, regulating, and taxing daily fantasy sports. Of those states, 8 have passed pro-DFS gaming regulations. Meanwhile, New York’s State Legislature passed a bill which legalized DFS in the state, overruling Eric Schneiderman’s ban. Illinois is considering doing the same thing.
At present, Illinois, Texas, and Nevada have joined the 5 states which previously had banned fantasy sports. Thus, roughly an equal number of US states have approached daily fantasy sports in completely different ways: banning or legalizing it. The remaining 34 states have no set policy, which equates to an unregulated, but legal, form of gaming.
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