Daily Fantasy Sports Remains On Pennsylvania Legislature’s Radar

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While most states are plowing ahead with bills that would regulate the daily fantasy sports industry, Pennsylvania has been taking a more measured approach. But that doesn’t mean the state is ignoring the burgeoning industry. What’s going on with DFS in PA? At one point, it looked like Pennsylvania would actually move faster than most states on DFS regulation. But chatter about a planned bill that would treat DFS much like land-based casinos and online gambling never turned into actual legislation. Since a hearing in November, no new legislation has surfaced other than a bill that plans to study DFS as a “gambling product.” That bill was signed by the governor, and it requires the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to put together a report. The results of that report will be available May 25 in a House Gaming Oversight Committee meeting. Depending on the what is contained in that report, we may see DFS regulation come up this spring in the legislature. In a related matter, the House also moved forward a resolution calling on Congress to repeal the federal ban on sports betting. What might DFS regulation look like in PA? While a lot of states are considering regulation that is relatively “light” in nature, Pennsylvania would seem to be a safe bet to take a stricter regulatory approach. Why?
Treating DFS like gambling has been the backdrop of all discussions in the state so far.
New York and New Jersey have floated bills that handle the industry much like gaming operators. What legislation ends up looking like is a variable, but it seems a safe bet that PA might take its cues from its neighbors. Will DraftKings and FanDuel be in PA? This is potentially a big question in PA. If Pennsylvania calls DFS gambling, major DFS operators DraftKings and FanDuel, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, have indicated they would oppose such a bill in New Jersey. However, Pennsylvania is a big market, and it’s unclear whether they would give it up just because of a “skill or chance” language debate, should a “gambling”-style bill becomes law. Saying DFS is “gambling” in one state, however, can bring up problems in another. The bigger question might lie in the licensure fees and the taxation schemes set forth in PA. DraftKings and FanDuel appear to be willing to pay any somewhat reasonable amount, even if that means smaller operators get shut out. Roman Vukolov / Shutterstock.com

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