Raising the minimum age of players from 18 to 21 was among the changes lawmakers discussed Wednesday while considering a bill to clarify the legality of daily fantasy sports in Indiana.
The House Public Policy Committee will vote on the bill, already passed by the Indiana Senate, next Wednesday. If it passes, it would move to the full House.
After more than 90 minutes of discussion by the committee, chair Tom Dermody, R-LaPorte, said “things will change” in multiple aspects of the bill.
Other potential amendments include moving the regulation of daily fantasy sports from the Horse Racing Commission to the Gaming Commission and the fees that daily fantasy sports companies would pay to a newly created fantasy sports administration and regulation fund run by the state.
House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, has suggested that the fantasy sports bill isn’t a major issue. But Dermody said at the start of discussion on Senate Bill 339 that it was an “important issue to a million or half-million Hoosiers.”
That number is an estimate of all fantasy sports players, including season-long games that are less formal and typically organized among friends.
At issue in the legislature are games where players open accounts with real money at websites operated by large companies, such as DraftKings and FanDuel. There are 50,000 to 150,000 daily fantasy sports players in Indiana, according an estimate by the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.
Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn, said daily fantasy sports “is a big thing that’s going to be around for a long time” and that lawmakers have to get it right without having to revisit the issue in a few years.
“If we put this off, we’ll still have quite a few Hoosiers playing this without consumer protections,” the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Jon Ford, R-Terre Haute, told the committee.
Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson, expressed concern about the games infringing on the operations of Indiana’s “racinos,” including Hoosier Park in Anderson.
“I represent a horse racetrack, and I’m very protective of it,” she told representatives of the fantasy sports industry. “I would like to make sure you can’t come in, and, by Internet gaming, basically undercut what’s going on in my community.”
As numerous state legislatures and attorneys general grapple with the legality of fantasy sports, Indiana — home of the NCAA’s headquarters — became the first state to have a bill specifically prohibiting the games from using college sports. That change was made in a Senate committee.
The bill would allow Indiana’s racinos and off-track betting operations to create their own fantasy sports games or contract with an existing company.
State revenue would come from licensing fees, which the Legislative Services Agency estimates would be $175,000 to $335,000 annually.
Daily fantasy sports involves players receiving points based on how real-life athletes perform on a particular day. Players fill out their lineups by “buying” the athletes they want, all of whom carry varying fictional price tags. Players must stay within a maximum budget when making their lineups. Players can enter one-on-one matches for $1 or games with higher fees and thousands of participants competing for seven-figure prizes.
FanDuel and DraftKings became ubiquitous on sports television during the start of football season with a torrent of ads. The companies have mainstream investors, including major professional sports leagues.
In October, the Wall Street Journal reported that the FBI was investigating the unregulated industry, including allegations that DraftKings employees used inside information to profit on a competing site.
This is a reprint from indystar.com. to view the original, click here.