Fantasy sports bill advances in Texas Legislature


A bill legalizing for-profit fantasy sports leagues in Texas has gained some yards in the state Legislature.

House Bill 1487, co-authored by state Rep. Richard Pena Raymond, D-Laredo, was approved on a 6-1 vote this week by the House Committee on Licensing & Administrative Procedures, although it remains unclear when or if it will be taken up by the full House for a vote.

State Rep. John Frullo, R-Lubbock, voted against the bill, while state Reps. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City, and Chris Paddie, R-Marshall, were absent.

A companion bill, Senate Bill 1970 authored by state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, is pending in the Senate State Affairs Committee.

Both bills would define fantasy sports as games of skill, not chance, and make it legal to operate or participate in for-profit fantasy sports leagues in which players pay entrance fees and win prizes.

Last year, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a nonbinding opinion that fantasy sports is chance-based gambling and is illegal in Texas. That opinion prompted the bills from Raymond and Kolkhorst.

Supporters of fantasy sports applauded this week’s House committee approval of Raymond’s bill, calling the right to play the games “an important economic liberty” for Texans.

“Fantasy sports in our state are no different from other legal contests that Texans have enjoyed for decades,” said Scott Dunaway, spokesman for the lobbying group Texas Fantasy Sports Alliance. “Technology has simply evolved the way Texans compete.”

But some religious and anti-gambling organizations are opposed to for-profit fantasy sports leagues, and they turned out to testify against Raymond’s bill during a public hearing earlier this month. They say fantasy sports have morphed from an innocent pastime with family and friends into a multi-million-dollar business that constitutes gambling and hooks players.

Rodger Weems, of the advocacy group Stop Predatory Gambling of Texas, said he was disappointed in the House committee vote, but he said his group will continue opposing both bills as they move through the legislative process.

“We’ll just take it a step at a time,” Weems said.

Participants in fantasy sports leagues pay entry fees, create teams from menus of professional athletes and then compile points based upon statistical performance, such as yards gained and touchdowns scored in football. Money is awarded to the owners of the top teams in the online games, which typically last one day to one week.

For-profit fantasy sports have risen in popularity nationwide in recent years. But the business has been largely self-regulated, leaving league operators to navigate a patchwork of state laws.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Business

Business week in review: HQ2 bid; home sales dip; Aldi’s coming
Business week in review: HQ2 bid; home sales dip; Aldi’s coming

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT Austin submits HQ2 bid: For the past month, hundreds of cities have scrambled to prepare proposals to win Amazon’s second company headquarters after the online retailer announced plans for the $5 billion project. Austin, considered a contender by industry analysts, has been among those preparing bids. Now, Austin enters the...
Virtual house calls rise as doctors embrace new Texas telemedicine law
Virtual house calls rise as doctors embrace new Texas telemedicine law

Doctors in Austin and statewide are gearing up to make house calls again — at least digitally. The field known as telemedicine — in which patients can use their computers or smartphones to see doctors via videoconferencing without leaving their homes — is poised to take off in Texas, fueled by recent changes to state law that lifted...
Tight labor market heightens premium on startups, education, exports
Tight labor market heightens premium on startups, education, exports

Austin’s rapid business and population growth have started to stretch its capacity, snarling highways, slowing job growth and making the region less affordable for many of its residents. Yet, the metro area’s ability to sustain its entrepreneurial spark has allowed employers to continue adding jobs, and the region’s potential for...
Plan would demolish Arbor cinema, Manuel’s to build apartments, shops
Plan would demolish Arbor cinema, Manuel’s to build apartments, shops

The Great Hills Market shopping center in Austin’s Arboretum area is slated to be redeveloped over time into a mixed-use project that would replace a popular arthouse theater and Manuel’s Mexican restaurant. The project is proposed for 17.2 acres bounded by U.S. 183, Great Hills Trail and Jollyville Road, site of Great Hills Market. Manuel&rsquo...
Business digest: Texas to receive $7.35 million in GM settlement

AUTO SAFETY Texas to receive $7.35 million in multi-state GM settlement Texas will receive $7.35 million of a $120 million multi-state settlement with General Motors over allegations that the company hid safety issues stemming from defective ignition switches in some of its vehicles, Attorney General Ken Paxton said Thursday. The settlement with attorneys...
More Stories