For supporters of legal and regulated daily fantasy sports, the news Wednesday was mostly positive.
Bills that would make DFS contests clearly legal and introduce varying levels of oversight passed committee votes in both houses of the Florida and Indiana legislatures by comfortable margins, and in California, AB 1437 cleared perhaps its most significant hurdle in the legislative process yet when it passed the California Assembly with another near-unanimous vote.
In a less-promising development, Hawaii’s Attorney General issued a formal opinion stating that real-money daily fantasy contests violate the state’s gambling laws. In each house of the Hawaii legislature, there have been bills introduced in the last week that would provide further clarification of DFS legality. Two bills seeks to authorize and regulate, two would establish fantasy sports as clear violations of the state’s gambling laws.
Neither DraftKings, FanDuel or the Fantasy Sports Trade Association has commented on the Hawaii AG’s opinion.
In California, AB 1437, which had faced a Thursday deadline for passage in the Assembly, now moves to the State Senate after receiving only two “nay” votes in its three appearances since the beginning of the current session. Both came from Marc Levine, a vocal opponent of daily fantasy who has asked Attorney General Kamala Harris to rule the contests illegal gambling.
Levine, who was recently targeted by the Fantasy Sports Trade Association with an attack ad, spoke Wednesday, reiterating his belief that DFS is gambling and therefore any measures to legalize it require a constitutional amendment passed by the state’s voters.
That belief was clearly not shared by his fellow Assemblymembers.
Eric Linder, who spoke in support of 1437, said it was not the Assembly’s place to weigh in on the legality of DFS, but instead to act to provide protection for the “millions of Californians” who play daily.
Harris has not responded directly to Levine’s letter and appears content to let the legislature provide legal clarity on the matter.
As currently composed, AB 1437 will require daily fantasy operators to pay a one-time licensing fee of an unspecified amount, as well as quarterly regulatory fees based on gross income. Other measures recently added to the bill include a restriction on players under 21 years old, and a requirement that sites identify experienced players.
The FSTA issued the following statement after the bill’s passage:
“We appreciate that the Legislature is taking thoughtful and appropriate action to ensure that the millions of Californians who play daily fantasy sports can continue to enjoy the contests they love. We look forward to continuing to work with Assembly member Gray and the Senate to craft legislation that protects consumers and provides balanced regulation of the industry.”