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December 12, 2017 | Edition Nº3383

Burlington in late January

Wisconsin anti-gambling group gears up for legislative fight against DFS

Wisconsin anti-gambling group gears up for legislative fight against DFS
In anticipation of a bill to regulate companies such as Draft Kings and FanDuel, Citizens Against Expanded Gambling is planning a number of town halls as part of a push against it, arguing the games are a form of gambling and should be illegal. And it pla
United States | 01/05/2017

In anticipation of a bill to regulate companies such as Draft Kings and FanDuel, Citizens Against Expanded Gambling is planning a number of town halls as part of a push against it, arguing the games are a form of gambling and should be illegal. And it plans to make its first stand in Racine County.

T

he first town hall will be held in Burlington in late January, said the group’s executive director, Lorri Pickens.

The choice of Racine County was deliberate, she said. The group wanted to make a splash in an area where a proposed casino in Kenosha got a lot of support from legislators and residents in recent years.

“The industry spends millions of dollars getting their economic-growth soundbites out. We, with a very little budget, have very little opportunity to be able to poke out heads out and say, ‘You know what, wait a minute. It’s not all sunshine,’ “ Pickens said.

Burlington also is the hometown of Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, which Pickens said was a factor.

Arguments the group will make at town halls will likely address the heart of the debate over daily fantasy sports: Whether it’s a game of skill or chance

In daily fantasy sports, participants pick a new lineup each day and win or lose based on how athletes in the lineup perform.

Citizens Against Expanded Gambling believes that’s a game of chance, and regulating it would “make a virtual casino and lottery retailer available to every Wisconsinite with a smart phone or other internet-capable device,” the organization said in a news release.

But others believe winning DFS is a matter of skill. While it’s not illegal for residents to play, supporters say a regulatory and consumer protection framework should be established in Wisconsin to protect DFS companies amid legal action taken in other states.

State Rep. Tyler Vorpagel, R-Plymouth, released a proposal last year that specifies that fantasy games are not gaming

Among the measures in the bill was a requirement that participants be age 18 or older and restrictions on the participation of DFS operators and employees.

The proposal did not advance past a public hearing, but Pickens and others expect a similar bill to emerge in the upcoming session.

Vorpagel said in a 2016 statement that “there are over 900,000 Wisconsinites who play fantasy sports and want DFS to continue to exist in Wisconsin, with appropriate protections.”

Pickens, though, calls the games “dishonest and predatory.” She differentiated DFS with traditional season-long fantasy sports, arguing the latter requires more skill.

“Daily fantasy sports meets every requirement of the definition of commercial gambling, and operates much differently than season-long fantasy games,” Pickens said. “While participants in season-long games may exercise a considerable level of skill in operating a team — such as drafting players and making strategic decisions — DFS operators serve as an exchange, much like a bookmaker in traditional gambling.”

Citizens Against Expanded Gambling formed in 2015 on the heels of what unfolded with the Kenosha casino, Pickens said. Gov. Scott Walker vetoed the project in January 2015. The group is a 501©(4) whose donors are private, she said.

More details on the Burlington town hall are expected soon. The legislative session, meanwhile, begins Tuesday.

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