Georgia DFS bill out of first committee despite anti-gambling lobbyists

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The recently introduced bill to regulate daily fantasy sports in Georgia advanced out of the House Committee on Economic Development and Tourism but not without the standard crop of anti-gambling critics speaking out against the legislation.

Bill sponsor Rep. Ron Stephens presented HB 1329 by arguing that this activity is already legal in the state and already something that roughly 250,000 Georgians are taking part in.

“What I’m asking you to do today is nothing more than to regulate something that is legal today, which is fantasy sports,” he added shortly before the vote.

Representatives from PrizePicks, Underdog and the Coalition for Fantasy Sports appeared to discuss the bill and argue why fantasy sports differs from sports betting. There was also substantial talk about how tax proceeds from this bill would help to fund the Georgia HOPE Scholarship program and potentially help fund pre-K education in the state as well.

Rep. Yasmin Neal attempted to add an amendment to the bill that would enable training in the fantasy sports industry at trade and technical schools but that amendment was voted down.

Several critics of gambling in general appeared to speak out against the measure, including Dr. John Kent, who invoked the old adage “click a mouse and lose your house” while arguing that national media coverage like the recent 60 Minutes piece is a more accurate depiction of sports betting and fantasy sports than what the industry puts forth.

Despite the objections from Kent and other family values groups, the bill advanced and will next move to the Rules Committee for approval.