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Government, Politics & Issues

Missouri House considers whether fantasy sports require skill - or luck and regulations

Larry Fitzgerald catches a touchdown pass at the 2009 Pro Bowl.

While Gov. Jay Nixon called for regulating daily sports fantasy sites in his State of the State Address last month, a Missouri House committee is weighing a bill that would do the exact opposite.

House Bill 1941 would exempt those websites from the state's legal definition of gambling. It's sponsored by Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, R-Shell Knob. He says fantasy sports involves skill and is not a game of chance.

"I play fantasy sports, and I'm sure a lot of people do," he told the House committee on emerging issues. "It's not like going to the casino and slapping down money on the roulette table. You study the players, you look at who they're playing, you make decisions."

Fitzpatrick added, "I would consider it more similar to the stock market, really, than going to the casino."

Several witnesses testified in favor of the bill, including Christopher Grimm who spoke on behalf of FanDuel and Draft Kings, and the Fantasy Sports Trade Association. He echoed Fitzpatrick's assertion that fantasy sports are games of skill, not chance.

"Fantasy players need to understand scoring systems, the particular strengths of different players, the type of offensive scheme that they play in, and the quality of the matchup," Grimm said. "In short, a tremendous amount of work, research, and analytical skill goes into selecting a fantasy lineup."

No one testified against HB 1941, and no vote was taken Wednesday.

Nixon briefly but sharply criticized the daily fantasy sports industry in his State of the State Address last month:

"Let's also work together to protect kids and consumers by reining in the billion-dollar daily fantasy sports industry. Let's get real: this is gambling, kids are playing, and it's completely unregulated. And there are lobbyists in this building who want to keep it that way. If you're going to legalize it, we must regulate it and tax it just like we do casinos. This industry should follow the law, play by the rules, and pay its fair share. This could mean millions of dollars a year for education."

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

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