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Fantasy Sports Leagues Keep Watchful Eye on Gambling Legislation

Efforts are being made in Washington to make state based online gambling illegal in the United States, despite the fact that several states have already launched online gambling initiatives for their residents and visitors to their state. The proposed legislation would reverse the DOJ's position taken in 2011 which stated that individual states have the authority and freedom to determine their own destiny concerning legalizing online gambling in their region. Fantasy sports leagues have a vested interest in not being included in the bans contained in the legislation, and are keeping an eye on its development to protect their interests.

The bill in question is called the Restoration of America's Wire Act, and is being brought forward by Rep. Jason Chaffetz and Sen. Lindsey Graham, and would make poker, blackjack and other casino games illegal. US based online sportsbooks are not legal at this time, and the bill does not affect legal online sports betting based offshore. At this time, it does not address fantasy football and sports competitions which are legally offered to US bettors at this time. The Fantasy Sports Trade Association is remaining neutral on the bill itself, stating that they are neither for nor against the bill. However, they have retained a law firm to assist them should any applicable issues or circumstances arise that draw them into the scope of the legislation's reach. In other words, if their niche gets sucked into the ban on Internet gambling, they have their lawyers ready to pounce.

The trade group is representing both large and small groups, with 170 members. They have made strong efforts to distance themselves and not be associated with online gambling. Fantasy sports betting is said to be based on skill and sports knowledge, and does not rely on luck. They claim that because their action and level of competition is based on statistics, game theory and other facts, that their offerings are indeed skill based. They also pointed out that many participants are not in it for the money but rather for the enjoyment of the experience.

Joining in the opposition to online gambling is Sheldon Adelson, who has spent millions of dollars and hired multiple firms for his lobbying efforts to get this bill passed. This all takes place as multiple states prepare legislation legalizing online gambling within their states. The fantasy sports industry is a thriving segment of the sports industry, with some big name players involved, including, USA Today and Yahoo, among others. Though the Fantasy Sports Trade Association remains neutral on this piece of legislation at this time, it's likely that position would change should their Fantasy Sports niche be added to the ban on Internet gambling supported by this bill.

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