House votes to tax, regulate fantasy sports

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Mike Foltynewicz (26) throws in the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals in a spring training baseball game, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

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Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Mike Foltynewicz (26) throws in the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals in a spring training baseball game, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

The Georgia House on Wednesday voted to approve the first regulations and taxes on daily online fantasy sports leagues.

Lawmakers voted 126-32 to approve House Bill 118, which would make it illegal for anyone 18 or younger to participate in contests on websites like FanDuel or DraftKings. College athletes also would be barred and the bill would levy a 6 percent tax on the companies that run the leagues.

Online sports gaming received scrutiny in 2015 from then-Attorney General Sam Olens, who suggested an investigation into whether daily fantasy sports sites, such as FanDuel and DraftKings, fell under state prohibitions on gambling. Olens' review came after the New York attorney general called for a cease-and-desist order to those companies, saying it constituted illegal gambling under New York state law. New York lawmakers later passed a law regulating the industry.

But the bill's sponsor, Rep. Trey Kelley, R-Cedartown, said these leagues are not gambling but are games of skill.

The bill “clarifies Georgia law for the million-and-a-half Georgians who are playing fantasy sports in our state,” Kelley said. “Daily fantasy sports are games of skill much like a golf tournament or a bass fishing tournament.”