The Capitol Record

Legislature considering fantasy sports bill

Washington lawmakers are considering legalizing fantasy sports games played with groups of friends or coworkers with bets of $50 or less.

Republican Sen. Pam Roach is seeking to classify fantasy sports leagues as games of skill — rather than luck or chance — which would make them exempt from the state’s Gambling Act.

Washington is one of five states that bans fantasy sports games.

“We have hundreds of thousands of people in Washington who participate in something that is just a fun, kind of a trash talk game,” Roach said. “It’s just a fun thing.”

Roach outlined her proposal at a hearing of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee on Friday. It would fall under a 50/50/50 structure, limiting games to 50 people who place bets under $50. Participants would have to engage in at least 50 percent of the games.

Several supporters testified at the hearing that fantasy sports leagues do require skill because it involves following the statistics of players and having a deeper understanding of the game.

However, those who provide programs to problem gamblers said there is still an element of chance and fantasy sports games can have uncertain outcomes.

Maureen Greeley, executive director of the Evergreen Council of Problem Gambling, said she believes any legislation should come with industry standards and consumer protections, such as age restrictions or a limit on the amount of money that can be wagered over a period of time.

TVW taped the hearing. Watch it here.

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