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House passes fantasy sports bill after major changes

March 4, 2016

A bill to regulate daily fantasy sports games in Indiana moved one step closer to becoming law Thursday after receiving a major overhaul in the House.

Under Senate Bill 339, the Indiana Gaming Commission would regulate daily fantasy sports games such as those offered by DraftKings and FanDuel.

The House on Thursday approved the bill 82-12. The Senate then passed the bill 34-10, sending it to Gov. Mike Pence for consideration.

Lawmakers in the House made several big changes to the bill, including moving oversight to the Gaming Commission. The original bill called for the Indiana Horse Racing Commission to handle the job.

Legislators also raised the initial licensing fee for operators of the games from $5,000 to $75,000 before eventually reducing the amount to $50,000 in the final version. That’s in addition to an annual fee of $20,000.

The bill also allows daily fantasy sports to be offered on riverboats, at racinos and at off-track betting satellite facilities. It excludes contests based on college or high school sports, an exclusion pushed by the NCAA, which is based in Indianapolis.

“Daily fantasy sports have grown exponentially since their start in the early 2000s, and we want to ensure that the nearly 1 million users in Indiana are participating in a supervised game,” Rep. Alan Morrison, R-Seelyville, said in a written statement. “Ensuring that there are basic consumer protections, transparency and strict age limits will give all participants assurance of a fair game.”

Lawmakers had considered raising the legal age for playing the games to 21 but left it at 18. They also removed language requiring operators to withhold income tax from players’ winnings because the process was too complicated.

The bill calls for a study committee to examine how to require operators to withhold income taxes and overdue child support payments from winnings.  

Morrison, who sponsored the bill, said about 30 other states are considering similar legislation.

“We are kind of the boilerplate and the leader in the country,” he said of Indiana. “And it’s important for us to do this rather than down the road a unilateral decision by a judge or an attorney general or a governor.”
 

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