February 18, 2016

Lawmakers Look For The Right Place To Regulate Daily Fantasy Sports

Lawmakers Look For The Right Place To Regulate Daily Fantasy Sports

INDIANAPOLIS — Lawmakers are looking into whether daily fantasy sports games should be considered gambling in Indiana.

Senate Bill 339, authored by Sen. Jon Ford, R-Terre Haute, would legitimize fantasy sports games, such as DraftKings and FanDuel, and aims to provide basic consumer protection and transparency to Hoosiers who participate.

The bill would create a Paid Fantasy Sports Division within the Indiana Horse Racing Commission to regulate the industry because fantasy operators would be allowed to do business on riverboats, racinos, and off-track betting satellite facilities. Lawmakers on the House Public Policy Committee are wondering whether the Indiana Horse Racing Commission is the right place for daily fantasy sports, but they are not sure if the Indiana Gaming Commission is the proper fit either.

Different states have placed the industry in different departments depending on where they felt it was the best fit.

“We are somewhat of a square peg trying to find a round or square hole to put ourselves in,” Scott Ward, a FanDuel and DraftKings representative, said. “We don’t exactly fit anywhere and so we’re trying to find the right place.”

Ward argued daily fantasy sports should not be considered gambling, because the game requires an element of skill and knowledge rather than relying on chance to win.

“Regardless of the length of the contest, fantasy sports is a game of skill, not a game of chance. It’s not enough to know the most popular teams and their most recognizable stars,” Peter Schoenke, the chairman of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association said. “You need to understand scoring systems, particular strengths of different players, the types of offensive schemes they plan and the quality of their match-ups.”

Indiana law considers gaming to be any activity that involves wagering money or property for gain. The activity must also have an element of chance to be defined as gaming.

“I am absolutely convinced now that this is gambling. I can’t get my head around it any other way,” Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn said. “I like fantasy sports, but I’m just certain that there’s no amount of skill that could ever predict that Jordy Nelson blowing his knee out at the beginning of the year.”

Lawmakers plan to vote on amendments and the proposal next week.

Andi TenBarge is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news site powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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