Louisiana state Rep. Joseph Lopinto voluntarily deferred his HB 475 legislation that would have legalized daily fantasy sports after encountering opposition from lobbying groups.
In a Senate committee hearing on Tuesday, Lopinto pulled the bill upon realizing it would have been rejected. The bill is now off of the committee’s schedule for this session but Lopinto said that he might try again next year.
“Everything’s worth trying another year,” said Lopinto. “New elections and term limits bring new people and new ideas.”
“I brought that bill, and obviously I know that there’s a lot of controversy that has been brought with it. I’ve been trying to work with both sides in order to make that happen, it has not happened as of yet,” Lopinto added.
The bill easily passed the House last month with a 71-20 vote with 14 members abstaining, but opposition surfaced on the Senate side. The state’s legal gaming community and the Louisiana Family Forum worked against the bill, viewing it an unwanted expansion of gaming.
Lopinto has argued that Louisiana is one of only five states that prohibit the increasingly popular prize-based fantasy games for sports such as football, basketball and baseball. A 1991 Louisiana attorney general’s opinion stated that fantasy football is viewed as a game of skill and thus not legally considered gambling.
Louisiana outlawed online gambling in 1997, including participating in fantasy sports for money. Fantasy players are technically exposed to a maximum penalty of a $500 fine and six months in jail but the law is not being enforced on sports fans managing fake teams from their computers, Lopinto said.
Opposition to Lopinto’s plan started in April as the Family Forum distributed an email saying that “this bill would allow participation in fantasy and simulated sports games primarily using the internet. Because these games involve consideration in terms of a fee to participate and also involve payout partially based on luck, we believe that allowing participation in these games would be an expansion of gambling.”