May 13th, 2010

Louisiana Watchdog Group Killed Fantasy Bill

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

It turns out there’s a very simple reason behind the Louisiana House of Representatives resoundingly rejecting a bill to allow fantasy sports payouts: an e-mail blast by a conservative watchdog group.

Louisiana Family Forum — which is well known within the state for distributing an annual “scorecard” that rates the family advocacy of each representative, from “outstanding advocate” to “hostile” — widely distributed in advance of Monday’s vote an e-mail condemning House Bill 316 as an expansion of gambling.

Rep. Thomas Carmody, the bill’s sponsor, pointed to that as the direct cause of the 16-73 vote against his bill in speaking with on Thursday afternoon.

“I imagine those who voted with me will take a 25-point hit, out of 100,” Carmody said, referring to the expected negative impact in LFF’s ratings to those supporting the fantasy bill.

Although this case and the larger issue is of great importance to those of us in the industry, it’s important to remember that the majority of Americans have no involvement in and perhaps even no knowledge of fantasy sports at all. In light of that fact, it’s easy to imagine a politician facing a House vote on a seemingly random topic, seeing the potential for harm to his or her image that would come with supporting the measure, and voting ‘no’ without further consideration.

Carmody said that after the vote, some of his colleagues admitted to him that they hadn’t realized how specifically the bill was written, how small the actual scope of impact was.

As we’ve pointed out here, anyone who read the short bill would’ve clearly seen that the measure sought to do nothing more than allow Louisiana residents to accept prizes in fantasy competitions — competitions in which they’re already legally allowed to participate, by the way.

As we’ve also pointed out, of course, Louisiana already presents many legal forms of “gaming” and draws more than $700 million in annual revenue directly from in-state gaming operations.

Unfortunately, despite his friend David Winkler not being able to collect a prize T-shirt and despite messages from fantasy-playing constituents wondering “why in the world would you prohibit” fantasy prizes, Carmody said he plans no further pursuit of change in this area. That’s perfectly understandable. Carmody and other state lawmakers don’t have much reason to be concerned with fantasy sports. He tried once, and it didn’t work.

That’s why it’s incumbent upon members of the fantasy industry to press states with murky laws relating to fantasy payouts for change. Louisiana law doesn’t keep residents from playing fantasy sports, just from reaping the rewards of succeeding at them. is still looking into exactly how restrictive commonwealth law is on fantasy payouts. Specifically, whether it makes a difference if the game in question requires no entry fee.

Of course, the federal government has already decided that doesn’t matter. It’ll be nice when all 50 states agree.