A bill regulating daily fantasy sports games such as FanDuel and DraftKings received unanimously support from an Indiana Senate committee Wednesday.
“Sports is everything for the state of Indiana,” said Sen. Jon Ford, R-Terre Haute, who authored the bill. “Hoosiers are passionate about sports. This bill would help bolster our economy.”
Under Senate Bill 339, paid fantasy sports games would be managed through a website controlled and operated by a licensed game operator. Operators would be required to pay an initial fee of $5,000 as well as an annual fee of $5,000 to be licensed in Indiana.
The bill could create a Paid Fantasy Sports Division within the Indiana Horse Racing Commission. The division would collect fees, conduct any investigations needed to regulate the games and impose fines for violations.
The proposed bill also would require participants to be at least 18 years old. Daily fantasy employees and their families would be banned from playing. Professional athletes and officials also would be banned from playing games connected to the sports they participate in.
The committee amended the bill to forbid daily fantasy companies creating games centered on collegiate and high school sports in Indiana.
“We support Sen. Ford’s amendment,” said NCAA representative Mike McDaniel. “We think it is important for the integrity of the institutions.”
FanDuel attorney Scott Ward said the bill addresses a “very difficult and important issue” because over a million Hoosiers play daily fantasy sports. He also said daily fantasy games should not be considered gambling and they are the new national pastime in the country.
“Chance plays a very small part in fantasy sports because the game is designed to be determined by skill. Skill in picking the statistically best eight or nine players,” Ward said.
Indiana Council on Problem Gambling Executive Director Jerry Long disagreed, saying the state needs to provide enough resources to help those struggling with gambling addiction. Those funds are largely provided by gaming taxes. SB 339 does not impose taxes on daily fantasy sports.
“We can call it not gambling but it really is gambling,” he said. “It limits what we can do in Indiana. There needs to be a plan to promote help with gambling.”
In a written statement from a company spokesperson, FanDuel said: “We would like to thank Rep. Morrison and Sen. Ford of Indiana for offering FanDuel a safe haven to provide jobs and stimulate a nascent industry and local economy; something we’ve been doing in New York City’s burgeoning tech scene for the last six years.”
SB 339 moves to the full Senate for further consideration.