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Legislature approves fantasy sports contests

Front view of computer keyboard, reading glasses, notepad, pen and American football on red, white and blue rustic wooden boards. Concept of draft and plays for the season.

On Tuesday, the Senate passed a bill that would allow fantasy sports contests to be played legally in Alabama.

House Bill 361 is sponsored by State Rep. Kyle South, R-Fayette.

During the House debate, South said fantasy sports contest are games of skill and are not games of chance. Gambling is forbidden by the Alabama 1901 Constitution. This bill clarifies that they are games of skill and thus not banned by the state constitution.

South said the two largest operators, Fan Duel and Draft Kings, pulled out of the state two years ago awaiting clarification from the Legislature after Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) issued a memo stating that it was his opinion that fantasy sports contests are a form of gambling.

“HB361 defines fantasy sports contests as a game of skill,” South said. “Passing the bill would allow Fan Duel and Draft Kings to return to the state.”

Opponents argued that fantasy sports contests are actually gambling, which is forbidden by the state Constitution and should have been handled by a constitutional amendment. A constitutional amendment would have required a vote of the people of the state.

The bill was passed by the Alabama House of Representatives with the operators be taxed at 8 percent of proceeds. South estimated that that would bring in $2.5 million to the state general fund budget.

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The Alabama Senate raised those taxes to 10.5 percent.

On Tuesday night, the bill returned to the House of Representatives to consider the Senate changes.

South recommended that the House vote to concur with the Senate.

The House voted to accept the changes on an 82 to 16 vote.

The bill now goes to the governor for her consideration.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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