Editorial: Legalize Internet gaming and fantasy sports in California

The Graton Resort and Casino in Roehnert Park, California. Photo from Facebook

The Los Angeles Times calls on the California Legislature to regulate online poker, not just fantasy sports, despite divisions among tribes in the state:
Betting on sports is illegal in most states, California included. Nevertheless, betting on a hand-picked group of star athletes — also known as playing “daily fantasy sports” — has become a multibillion-dollar enterprise seemingly overnight, spurred by a barrage of advertising and investments from major sports leagues. Lawmakers and attorneys general across the country are trying to decide whether to regulate fantasy sports betting or simply ban it. As usual, though, they're way behind the curve.

The smart approach is to regulate the leagues, ideally within the context of a comprehensive approach to online gaming. That way the state can protect consumers against fly-by-night sites while requiring companies to use sophisticated technology to block minors and problem gamblers, pay fees that can be used for oversight and enforcement, and guard consumers against insiders competing unfairly for jackpots, as both FanDuel and DraftKings were accused of allowing last year. None of those protections is assured online today.

California lawmakers have been trying for years to create this sort of framework for online poker, only to be thwarted by internecine battles among the state's licensed gaming businesses. Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) is now championing a bill to license and regulate just the daily fantasy sports operators, but his bill is likely to run the same gantlet of resistance from Indian tribes, racetracks and card clubs. The argument for setting up a safer environment for fantasy sports games applies in spades to online poker. It's time for the Legislature to stand up to the competing gambling interest groups and adopt safeguards that apply across the online gaming boards.

Get the Story:
Editorial: License and regulate all online gaming sites, not just fantasy sports (The Los Angeles Times 1/23)

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