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Texas to Approve Daily Fantasy Sports Legislation?

December 21, 2018

Back in 2016, Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton issued an opinion that made clear the state felt as though participation in fantasy sports equated to gambling on athletic performance. Based on prior Texas legislation, that's the standard set to determine if the wagering activity was legal or not. 

Here in 2019, it appears there's been a change of heart. Under the co-sponsorship of State representative Phil King, House Bill 2303 was sent to the House for debate and a vote. The Bill would legalize participation in daily fantasy sports for Texas residents. The vote came back with an astounding 116-27 in favor of permitting Texas residents to play fantasy sports online for real cash. 

A big motivating factor in passing the bill at this point was the presumption many of the state's highly motivated gamblers were already finding ways to play fantasy sports online with providers like DraftKings and FanDuel. Rather than attempt to fight against that which is already taking place, state legislators are opting to simply move forward and make it legal. 

According to King, the bill is very specific about why the state has decided to allow residents to be legal participants. In his opinion and the opinion of other legislators, “It’s not gambling. It’s a game of skill. Many people are playing it without thinking they are breaking the law.” 

Clearly, legislators are willing to accept skill-based gambling options as viable. That will likely apply to online poker at some point in the future. The Bill has the full support of the The Texas Fantasy Sports Alliance. It remains to be seen if Governor Greg Abbott will sign the bill, but initial indications are it will get done.

This is a huge step for a state that has been very much on the sidelines since the US Supreme Court decided to lift the federal ban on sports gambling back in May of 2018. Along with California and Florida, these three states have shown very little initial interest in legalizing sports gambling for its residents. Currently, none of these states appear to have any meaningful legislation in the pipeline to move forward on the issue. 

If it's a wait and see approach, all eyes are likely trained on states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The numbers coming back from these first states to offer legalized sports gambling scream success. With a new resource for tax revenue on the line, this new daily fantasy sports legislation might be the forerunner of something bigger coming in the future.


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