A bill that would make felons out of daily fantasy operators and advertisers in Washington state will get a public hearing Monday.
Introduced last week by Christopher Hurst and David Sawyer, the bill specifically rules fantasy sports games to be games of chance rather than skill, and then pushes that sentiment to the boundaries of credulity in the following passage:
The legislature further finds that, in fantasy sports games, the relative success of a participant is determined almost entirely by the element of chance rather than the element of skill.
Among its follies, the bill cites humorist/television host John Oliver as a “British journalist.”
It seeks to make operating or advertising a fantasy sports game a Class C felony in the state, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. In the table detailing crimes by seriousness level in Washington, operating or advertising fantasy sports contests would fall roughly between residential burglary and vehicular assault.
Though clearly aimed at operators of the daily variant, it would also specifically prohibit fantasy contests “of any duration” in which the participants put up something of value.
Hurst, though, told KIRO radio, “about the only people it’s going to apply to are FanDuel and DraftKings,” which he referred to as “a significant criminal element.”
“(Fantasy sports) is a natural extension of a great American pastime,” Hurst said. “What we have here are a couple of companies that are stealing money from the people who play, running horribly misleading and untrue advertising, and actually taking bets in the state, which is a felony every time they do it.”
“This is no different than El Chapo down in Mexico advertising heroin or methamphetamine on our airways a thousand times a day to get kids to try it.”
He went on to clarify that the law only targets for-profit business that take a handle from fantasy sports entry fees.
“This is one of the most horrifically run criminal enterprises parading as a legitimate business that I’ve ever seen,” Hurst said.
Most DFS operators exclude players from Washington in their terms of service, but Hurst says the sites have been accepting deposits from players in the state anyway.
Hurst’s bill is scheduled for a hearing in the state House Committee on Commerce & Gaming, of which Hurst is the chair, at 1:30 p.m. local time on Monday.