Thursday, January 7, 2016 : DAILY FANTASY SPORTS BILL ADVANCES IN CALIFORNIA (Update)
But why were bills on sports betting and online poker removed from the Government Organisation Committee agenda at the last minute?
Wednesday's meeting of the California Assembly's Government Organization Committee was encouraging in one aspect, but disappointing in another; whilst the daily fantasy sports bill AB 1437 advanced with amendments, two other key bills – AB1441 on sports betting and AB 167 on the legalization of online poker – were pulled from the agenda without explanation by chairman Assemblyman Adam Gray.
Regardless, the fact that the notoriously divisive Californian legislature managed to advance the DFS bill makes the state the first to achieve positive progress on a DFS legislative proposal.
Authored by Gray, the Internet Fantasy Sports Game Protection Act was filed in September and seeks the regulation, licensing and taxing of daily fantasy sports within California's borders.
Other than died-the-wool anti-DFS lawmaker Assemblyman Marc Levine, there was little real disagreement with the bill at the meeting, perhaps because Assemblyman Gray has inserted a number of amendments beforehand.
These included mandatory separation of player deposits from operating funds by operators; precautions against experienced players exploiting less skilled punters; provisions preventing operator employees taking advantage of their insider knowledge; and advertising restrictions.
Gray also left the specifics of tax rates and licensing fees open to argument.
The meeting delivered some positive suggestions from generally supportive committee members, although there were calls for a thorough study of certain aspects of DFS and doubts that the California regulatory system is currently sufficiently resourced to handle the additional work that legalised DFS would generate.
Assemblyman Gray told one lawmaker enquiring about possible disagreements on DFS by other interested parties (read tribal and cardroom groups) that thus far there has been little opposition.
With only Assemblyman's Levine’s negative vote against it, the DFS bill was progressed to the Appropriations Committee for further discussion.
The fate of the sports betting and online poker bills is currently unknown.