(Photo illustration by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Photo: Scott Olson
Photo: Scott Olson

Georgia Senate panel backs bill to regulate, tax online fantasy sports

A measure to regulate daily online fantasy sports programs has come back to life in the state Senate after sputtering out at the end of last year.

The legislation would make it illegal for anyone 18 or younger to participate in contests on websites such as FanDuel or DraftKings. College athletes also would be barred from playing the games, and the bill would impose a 6 percent tax on the companies that run the leagues.

The Senate Regulated Industries Committee voted unanimously Thursday to approve House Bill 118, moving it one step closer to becoming law. Nineteen states have passed similar measures.

The bill made it to the Senate floor last year before members put the proposal on hold on the last day of the legislative session.

Opponents of online fantasy sports say they are a way to further legalize gambling in Georgia.

Tanya Ditty, the state director of the conservative Christian activist group Concerned Women for America, said gambling leads to higher instances of alcohol or drug use and mental illness.

“Where we’re concerned is just the impact that gambling has on individuals and on the family,” she said.

State Rep. Trey Kelley, R-Cedartown, a sponsor of the bill, has said that online fantasy sports are games of skill that require research and practice. He said the legislation is designed to protect consumers.

Senate Regulated Industries Committee Chairman Frank Ginn, R-Danielsville, said there have been instances where smaller fantasy sports companies have refused to pay out winnings. This bill would keep that from happening, he said.

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