Texas Lawmakers Tackle Fantasy Sports Contests With New Bill
By Vela Wood
Texas is having quite the week for sports. And I’m not just talking about the upcoming Super Bowl in Houston on Sunday.
Yesterday, on February 1, Texas Rep. Richard Peña Raymond introduced HB 1457, a regulatory bill that seeks to clarify the ambiguous legal status of daily fantasy sports contests in Texas. In addition to identifying fantasy sports contests as games of skill (and therefore exempt from gambling regulation), the bill requires contest participants to be at least eighteen years old and includes some common sense consumer protection efforts, ostensibly targeted at preventing insider trading issues like the industry dealt with last year. Noticeably absent from the bill? Any registration or licensing requirements, as well as any taxes or fees.
This is big news, both for industry operators and contest players; Texas is a key piece of the DFS legislation puzzle. More than a dozen fantasy sports-related businesses are headquartered in Texas, and an estimated four million Texans participate in contests each year, making it one of the biggest revenue drivers for contest operators behind New York and California. And with the origin of fantasy sports contests having Texan roots, it makes sense that other states will look to Texas before crafting legislation of their own. (Fun fact: fantasy leagues began when Daniel Okrent – then president of Texas Monthly – typed up the rules on a flight to Austin.)
If you’re one of the many players who enjoy fantasy sports contests, your elected officials need to hear from you. Let them know you support HB 1457. The Texas Fantasy Sports Alliance provides a great tool for DFS-loving Texans, which will send an email and a postcard on your behalf to your state representative. Take action here.