Georgia lawmaker proposes to regulate daily fantasy sports

Add Georgia to the list of states seeking to regulate daily fantasy sports.

State Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, has proposed legislation following efforts in other states to place rules on companies operating daily fantasy sports websites. The bill, however, stops short of calling it gambling,

The bill would set standards for operations and pay-outs. It would ban anyone under 18 years of age from playing. And it would mandate that companies register in Georgia if they have players here, setting an initial $50,000 fee — and $10,000 annually — that would be paid toward the state’ signature education programs including the Hope Scholarship for college students.

Unterman called the legislation a “consumer protection” effort, saying an estimated 1.5 million people play daily fantasy sports in Georgia.

Notably, she wrote the bill to differentiate daily fantasy sports from gambling — something Georgia bans other than in lottery games and slot-like machines known as coin-operated amusement machines.

“This is a game of skill, that you are actually following and researching the players and teams, versus just going in and plopping down $3 for a lottery ticket and the computer generates the numbers,” Unterman said.

Major industry operators FanDuel and DraftKings have said fantasy sports are not gambling but a game of skill. Therefore, they say they should be exempt from a federal online gambling prohibition. A number of states, however, have either approved or are considering similar regulations.

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens indicated last fall that he may be investigating whether daily fantasy sports sites ran afoul of state prohibitions on gambling. His office declined comment Tuesday on the bill.