The battle lines in the sports fantasy gaming debate were drawn and the sparring was under way: game of chance vs game of skill. Then the entirely unpredictable jolted the Alabama House of Representatives on Tuesday. The chamber’s electronic vote monitor blinked out and went kaput.
Once the voting system was temporarily fixed, House members passed the “Fantasy Sports Act” by five votes, an outcome that surprised gambling foes.
One of them was Joe Godfrey, executive director of Alabama Citizens Action Program, which is funded by churches that oppose gaming of any kind. He doubted that the “Fantasy Sports Act’ would stand up to legal scrutiny.
He suggested that the bill was subterfuge of sorts. Alabama’s constitution sternly prohibits gambling, but the bill isn’t written as a constitutional amendment that would have to go before voters. Instead, Godfrey said, it’s written as a straightforward statute for lawmakers to decide.
Proponents of the bill couldn’t disagree more. They contend the bill aligns with the public’s wishes, will stand up to legal challenge, and further, that there’s no gambling going on in daily fantasy sports.
Watching events play out in Montgomery are two daily fantasy sports giants: FanDuel and DraftKings.
The two provide fast-paced fantasy sports through online portals, allowing gamers to create teams of real-life players, then enter into myriad competitions in which winners are decided by real-life performance statistics. Gamers can put in their own dollars, and possibly claim cash payouts if their teams do well.
“Exhaustive research on years of data conclusively demonstrates that fantasy sports are dominated by skill; they are not chance-based games, and thus they are not gambling,” said Marc La Vorgna, spokesman for the two companies.
Risky for GOP
The House approved HB354 following a lengthy and sometimes animated discussion that included a decree from bill supporter Rep. Alvin Holmes, D-Montgomery, that he was prepared to…