In Texas, you can have a pet tiger but you can’t play fantasy sports. No, seriously there are more tigers kept in captivity in Texas than there are in the wild. However, the big cat-loving lawmakers are considering making daily fantasy sports legal in the state. House Bill 1457, will seek to define daily fantasy sports as games of “skill” and not “chance” and would, therefore, be legalized in the state.
The co-author of the bill, State Rep. Richard Peña Raymond, D-Loredo, has signed the bill along with seven other members of the Texas House. On Monday, at a House committee hearing over the bill, Raymond said, “There are some things that government should not do — and taking away our right to play fantasy football is one of the things government should not do.”
Raymond is an avid fantasy sports player. He introduced the bill after fearing the state government would take away his right to play. He believes that the people who think fantasy sports is gambling must have never played.
“I play fantasy football. I have a lot of friends that do,” Raymond said. “I filed the bill just to clarify, but I think [fantasy football] is legal already … If you don’t think fantasy football is a game of skill, then you haven’t played it.” Per the Texas Tribune.
However, Raymond faces some opponents. In 2016 Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton equated paid-to-play fantasy sports sites like FanDuel and DraftKings to online gambling, which is illegal in the state of Texas. Since those sites offer the potential to win money through a “virtual” team then it violates the states prohibition on betting on games of chance. Free fantasy sports sites – like those on ESPN, CBS and Yahoo – are not in dispute.
Following Monday’s testimony, The House Committee on Licensing and Administrative Procedures left the bill pending. The bill will require a vote of two-thirds of all the elected members of each house. If the bill receives the votes needed it will take effect on September 1, 2017.
A group called the Texas Fantasy Sports Alliance, which is backed by FanDuel and DraftKings, is working to convince people like Paxton that fantasy sports and the companies operations are legal.
“A lot of representatives acknowledge that fantasy sports is not a partisan issue, it’s a Texas issue,” spokesman Scott Dunaway said, adding that there are more than 4 million Texans who play fantasy sports each year. “We’ve been playing fantasy sports for decades.” A spokesperson told the Texas Tribune.
Just let the people play Texas. Ya’ll have your tigers…