Indiana Lawmakers Discussing the Legalization of Daily Fantasy Sports
Indiana lawmakers are discussing a bill that would regulate daily fantasy sports. The latest news is the Indiana legislature wants to raise the minimum age to 21, but the real news is the law would be the first in the nation to legalize DFS gaming.
Currently, the Indiana House’s Public Policy Committee is planning a vote on the bill. The Indiana Senate has voted in support of the bill. If the committee voted to support the bill, it would move to the House floor for a full vote.
Tom Dermody Calls for Changes
During its discussion, Public Policy Committee Chairman Tom Dermody said “things will change” in several places before the bill receives a full vote. One of those changes is the age requirements, while other changes includes placing regulatory authority under the Indiana Gaming Commission. Previously, fantasy sports was under the Horse Racing Commission.
Though the idea of being regulated might be troublesome to daily fantasy sports sites like FanDuel and DraftKings, the news appears to be good for the DFS industry in Indiana. The companies are fighting an attempt to ban daily fantasy sports in New York. Officials in Illinois, Texas, Florida, and Nevada have not gone so far, but they have classified DFS as gambling.
Senate Bill 339
Indiana Senate Bill 339 does not appear to have such wording. If so, then DraftKings, FanDuel, and other fantasy sites would be able to gain legalized status without coming off their position that their contests are not gambling.
House Minority Leader Offers Support
House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, a Democrat from Michigan City, indicated this week he has no problem with daily fantasy sports itself. In fact, Pelath signaled that he wants the bill moved forward quickly, because fantasy sports is an “important issue to a million or half-million Hoosiers.”
Republican Support for the Bill
SB 339 appears to have a bipartisan support. Sen. Jon Ford, a Republican from Terre Haute, said passage was a matter of providing protection to citizens who would be playing the games, anyway. Sen. Ford said, “If we put this off, we’ll still have quite a few Hoosiers playing this without consumer protections.”
Rep. Ben Smalz, a Republican from Auburn, agrees. Smalz said that fantasy sports “is a big thing” which is “going to be around for a long time”, so laws need to be on the books that license, regulate, and tax the hobby.
Terri Austin Is Concerned for Racinos
Not everyone is willing to approve the plan without pause. Rep. Terri Austin, a Democrat from Anderson, said she is concerned that rampant daily fantasy sports might hurt local businesses. With DFS gaming approved for stay-at-home gaming, she is concerned that gamblers might not flock to Hoosier Park and other racinos for pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing and slots-style gaming at the park’s slots parlor.
Rep. Austin said of any attempt to infringe on her town’s gaming industry: “I represent a horse racetrack, and I’m very protective of it. I would like to make sure you can’t come in, and, by Internet gaming, basically undercut what’s going on in my community.”
Fantasy sports involves creating an imaginary team of individual players from a particular pro sport, such as the NFL football, Major League Baseball, NBA basketball, or NHL hockey. Fantasy sports converts these players’ stats into fantasy scores, so the team with the highest score wins. Players have played in yearly leagues for decades, mainly against friends and family members for winners prize or a trophy.
In 2009, FanDuel launched a daily fantasy sports site, which takes the yearly format and turns it into a one-day contest. DraftKings came along two years later, along with a host of other services. These companies have become billion dollar ventures, but some officials have wondered whether this is sports gambling by another name.
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