A California bill that would make daily fantasy sports a legal and regulated industry in the state is streaking through the legislative process, but its passage is far from assured.
Assembly Bill 1437 has already passed through two committee votes by near-unanimous margins since the 2016 session opened on Jan. 6. Next, it will be heard on the Assembly floor Monday, with a vote expected later this week, according to the Orange County Register.
The bill needs 2/3 approval to move to the Senate and must pass through the Assembly by Thursday or be effectively sent back to the starting line to be re-introduced.
Authored by Assemblymember Adam Gray, the bill is in its third iteration after being originally introduced in February and heavily amended in Sept. 2015.
Notable changes since it was re-introduced earlier this month include unspecified license and regulatory fees, a restriction on players under 21 years old, and the requirement that sites identify experienced players. The latter two dovetail with proposed regulations from Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, which have been met with ambivalence from the daily fantasy industry.
The fantasy industry has strongly opposed the age-21 restriction in Massachusetts, pushing instead for the limitation to be set at 18. Peter Schoenke, chair of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association wrote the following in the FSTA’s public comments submitted to Healey:
The FSTA also believes the age at which people should be able to play paid fantasy sports should be 18 years old. At 18 years old you are old enough to vote in this country and make adult decisions. Furthermore, an age limit of 21 years old appears to be tied to gambling products and casinos where the drinking age is a major factor for participation. Fantasy sports are not necessarily played at a physical location, so a similar age limit tied to drinking laws should not apply
Operators also expressed some concerns with how the proposed regulations in Massachusetts seek to define “highly experienced” players, but appear to have no qualm with the idea at a philosophical level. DraftKings announced last week that it will soon begin labeling experienced players and is reportedly still discussing the criteria.
The bill in California doesn’t include a definition of highly experienced players, and the FSTA has not commented publicly on the specifics of the amended bill, but Schoenke told the Orange County Register he was pleased.
“We’re rolling in the same direction,” Fantasy Sports Trade Association chairman Peter Schoenke said after the bill passed through committee. “I’m really encouraged by where it’s going.”