LINCOLN — A bill to regulate the daily fantasy sports industry remained in limbo Wednesday after opponents blocked a vote on the measure in the Nebraska Legislature.
State Sen. Tyson Larson of O’Neill said he considers his proposal a consumer protection bill that imposes requirements on the companies that offer online fee-based daily fantasy sports contests for cash payouts. Legislative Bill 469 also defines the contests as games of skill, potentially immunizing them from claims that they violate the Nebraska Constitution’s ban on games of chance.
Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha accused Larson of trying to play his fellow senators as “rubes” on behalf of an industry worth, by one estimate, more than $3 billion. Chambers pointed out that the two biggest companies in daily fantasy — FanDuel Inc. and DraftKings Inc. — support the regulations.
Chambers wasn’t alone in his opposition.
“I don’t believe it protects our consumers,” said Sen. Suzanne Geist of Lincoln. “It takes advantage of our citizens and it codifies online gambling.”
Sen. Lynne Walz of Fremont said she’s personally seen the financial and emotional devastation to families caused by gambling addictions.
Representatives of the two fantasy sports companies estimate that some 300,000 Nebraskans are among the more than 5 million Americans who play the games. Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha argued that the it’s inaccurate to characterize fantasy sports as expanded gambling since they’re already being played here.
Congress passed legislation in 2006 that banned many forms of online gambling but exempted fantasy games that meet certain criteria. Those criteria are included in the Nebraska bill.
Senators defeated a hostile amendment by Chambers, but after three hours of debate, they moved onto another bill.
Under an informal rule intended to save time on floor debate, Larson will have to show that he has a minimum of 33 votes needed to defeat a filibuster before the speaker will place LB 469 back on the agenda. As senators broke for lunch Wednesday, Larson refused to take a question about whether his bill has that level of support.
A similar bill sponsored by Larson two years ago failed to get past a filibuster.