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Fantasy football: Proposed bill clarifies some sites are illegal

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Posted at 6:00 AM, Sep 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-30 19:56:02-04

Online daily fantasy sports sites like DraftKings and FanDuel brought in nearly $3 billion combined in revenue in 2015 and are becoming increasingly popular among sports fans across the United States, including Ohio.

These fantasy sports sites allow users to enter contests with an entry fee or for free to potentially win money from sports competitions. But Sen. Bill Coley, R-Cincinnati, wants to make it clear some contests these sites run are illegal under Ohio law.

His proposed bill -- introduced this week -- wouldn’t change Ohio law, but does highlight already existing Ohio law. If a contest profits off of a certain percentage of entry fees and doesn’t have 100 percent of entry fees go back to the winner, then the contest is illegal, Coley said.

"There are some contests on these daily fantasy sports sites that are perfectly legal,” Coley said. “But if you touch a single penny of that (contest) money, then you need to change your business model.”

Coley said that some contests on these sites do make profit from entry fees and therefore are illegal, but couldn’t point to any specific contests. The bill would also designate the Casino Control Commission to regulate sites such as FanDuel and DraftKings.

“Sen. Coley is completely on an island – isolated from Ohioans who love fantasy sports and isolated from his caucus where he has no support for his attempt to ban fantasy sports,” Marc La Vorgna, spokesman for DraftKings and FanDuel, said in a statement.

The Ohio attorney general’s office released a memo on Monday detailing that daily fantasy sports sites are not being prosecuted currently and that the attorney general’s office doesn’t expect the sites will be.

15 states restrict daily fantasy sports sites in some way, with 10 states essentially banning daily fantasy sports sites outright.

Liam Niemeyer is a fellow in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism Statehouse News Bureau. You can reach him at liamnmeyer@gmail.com.