If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again. Georgia legislators are now taking the old adage to heart as they try to push through another daily fantasy sports bill. This time, with more legislative support than previous failed efforts had, state representatives Brett Harrell, Trey Kelley, David Clark, Chuck Martin and Spencer Frye filed House Bill 118. The new bill is called the “Fantasy Contests Act”. Provisions in the bill “provide for the licensing, registration, regulation, and taxation of fantasy contest operators.”
Basically, the bill contains similar provisions of previously proposed bills. The main difference this go around is the title and more legislative support.
The bill was taken up by the House Committee on Ways and Means for its first reading yesterday, Jan. 25, 2017. One of the main sponsors of the bill, State Rep. Trey Kelley, R-Cedartown, testified before the committee and described fantasy sports as a game of skill, requiring research and practice, and not a game of chance. He stated that the bill was designed to protect consumers and also to create a relatively low barrier to entry for paid-entry fantasy sports operators.
Rep. Kelley continued, “To me, the issues are separate. I have serious reservations about pure gambling in our state, but games of skill are already allowed. Golf tournaments, bass fishing tournaments, skeet shoots. We already allow those. I just see this as the proper classification.”
Oversight of bill H 118 will be provided by the Department of the Secretary of State. Some of the provisions of the bill are:
– If a DFS operator has players in Georgia, the company will have to register with the state.
– Registration fees for fantasy contest operators will be on a sliding scale and will range from $50,000 down to $10,000.
– Georgia will tax gross revenues of daily fantasy sports operators at a six percent tax rate.
– DFS operator employees will be barred from participating in any contests.
– Provisions must be in place by daily fantasy sports operators to prevent minors from participating.
– DFS operators must segregate player funds from operational funds.
DraftKings and FanDuel, the two largest operators in the DFS industry, issued a joint statement saying, “The bill takes the right approach by installing the consumer protections that have now been proven to work in many other states, while tailoring the correct specific touches for the state of Georgia. It updates older state laws to reflect changes in technology and the evolution of fantasy sports, and provides a path for the industry to generate revenue for the state as the fantasy sports industry continues to grow.”
Bill H 118 would seem to have a more favorable chance for passage than previous tries, but there are still a contingency of legislators in the Georgia House who feel that daily fantasy contests are nothing more than gambling.