The Los Angeles Times published an article on Sunday calling for the legalization of online gambling in general, not just online poker or Daily Fantasy Sports. The article explained how that online gambling has long took the stance of “ask forgiveness rather than permission” and it has led to the problems being experienced in both online poker in the United States and the recent Daily Fantasy Sports crisis.
Lots at Stake for DFS Leagues
A lot of the focus on online gambling in recent months has been on Daily Fantasy Sports. Sites such as FanDuel and Draft Kings bring in millions weekly in wagers and their popularity exploded in 2015 thanks to heavy investment and large ad campaigns that saw the sites promoted everywhere.
The sites claimed that they could police themselves and didn’t need regulation, virtually throwing down the gauntlet to lawmakers and state Attorney Generals around the country. Now the activity has been ruled illegal gambling in several states with California on the fence whether to rule the same.
The backlash by lawmakers around the country has forced DFS owners and investor to try and seek protection for their assets and their investments. Those that were impacted by online poker’s Black Friday remember how many millions were lost by players and companies in both the United States and around the world following several sites being forced to pull out. Some companies never recovered and some players were never repaid.
DFS leagues could face the same issues as online poker should they not find a way to become regulated or have their activity considered legal.
Online Gambling Regulation Needed Instead of “iPoker Regulation”
The Times argued that California should consider online gambling regulation instead of the specific bills presently being floated in the legislature. Presently, there are separate bills under consideration for both online poker and Daily Fantasy Sports.
The Times believes that a generalized online gambling bill would help the state become proactive every time a new form of online gambling pops ups. This type of bill would be similar to a proposed omnibus iGaming bill rumored to be in Massachusetts future.
The MA omnibus bill would give the state’s Gaming Commission the right to regulate and authorize new forms of online gambling as they deem necessary. This would be a blanket authorization that would prevent the legislature from having to argue every time a new form of gambling becomes popular.
What Are the Chances of a Comprehensive iGaming Bill Passing?
We feel that the Times is overlooking an important point of contention regarding iGaming. They pointed to the conflicts between stakeholders over iPoker as a potential roadblock to DFS regulation. Their argument is that the same stakeholders will seek to block DFS like they are iPoker.
If that’s the case, what’s stopping them from blocking a general omnibus bill? The horse racing industry is going to want to participate while tribal operators are not going to want other forms of gambling offered online. Most barely want online poker to be offered. What makes anyone believe that they will not work diligently to block a generalized iGaming bill.
An omnibus approach to iGaming is indeed a smart plan of attack, but it is one that is doomed to failure in California. There are too many differences of opinion and too many stakeholders involved for such a bill to pass.