Washington state lawmakers at odds over DraftKings, FanDuel

Yet another state is trying to turn itself against daily fantasy sports sites.

Already, a judge in New York has ruled that sites like DraftKings and FanDuel must stop operating in the state, and though an appeals court overturned that ruling, the question of whether DFS is illegal also has been a debate in Nevada and Illinois. Meanwhile, thousands of Texas citizens have sent letters to the state attorney general to keep those sites open.

In the state of Washington, the debate also rages on, and at least three bills have been discussed by the legislature to try to get a handle on what to do with DFS and other fantasy football games.

One of the ideas is to legalize some forms of fantasy sports, and Republican Sen. Pam Roach has proposed a bill that would allow 50 people or less to participate in a season-long fantasy sports league that would cost $50 or less. Games of chance are illegal in Washington, but Roach would determine that these kind of leagues are games of skills and, thus, legal.  

Republican Sen. Doug Ericksen has a similar idea, except he wants to classify all fantasy-sports games as games of skill—which would make all of it, including FanDuel and DraftKings, legal.

But State Rep. Chris Hurst (D-Enumclaw) has another idea. Instead of making these sites legal, he wants to shut them down and make advertising fantasy-sports games a Class C felony.

Not surprisingly, fantasy-sports organizations like Ericksen’s bill and despise Hurst’s idea.

“The FSTA urges everyone in the state of Washington to contact their representatives to vote against Rep. Hurst’s ridiculous, unseemly bill that would make criminals out of the millions of law-abiding, decent folks who have enjoyed playing fantasy sports for decades and appreciate the skill and camaraderie involved in playing the games,” said the Fantasy Sports Trade Association in a statement.

Even with his bill, though, Hurst doesn’t mind if his constituents play fantasy sports informally with friends. That kind of fantasy sport is basically legal now in Washington—or it’s not necessarily illegal—and he said his bill wouldn’t change that.

“I think fantasy sports are a good thing in society,” he said, via the Seattle Times.

The FTSA estimates that more than a million Washington residents played fantasy sports last year. The popularity hasn’t swayed Hurst, though.

“A lot of people like [his proposed bill],” he told ESPN.com. “They think it’s a good idea, because they can’t stand the commercials anymore. It got to the point where it seemed like half of all the commercials on television were for DraftKings or FanDuel. It was just nauseating. You couldn’t hardly watch anything anymore. Everybody you ran into was just like, ‘We just can’t take these anymore.'”

H/T Seattle Times | Photo via Ian Kennedy/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Josh Katzowitz

Josh Katzowitz

Josh Katzowitz is a staff writer at the Daily Dot specializing in YouTube and boxing. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. A longtime sports writer, he's covered the NFL for CBSSports.com and boxing for Forbes. His work has been noted twice in the Best American Sports Writing book series.