ATLANTA - Supporters of a push to regulate fantasy sports in Georgia added some major league star power Tuesday.
Retired Atlanta Brave and Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Glavine shared his support of House Bill 118 at the state Capitol.
“I can remember oftentimes towards the end of my career when fantasy sports was really becoming a big thing and certainly fantasy baseball, you know, how many times I would have somebody say to me, ‘Hey, you know, I really enjoy watching you play and I have you on my fantasy team. Can you pick it up? You know, I need you to do a little bit better,’” Glavine recalled with a smile.
The World Series MVP said he believes fantasy sports strengthen the connection between fans and players.
HB 118 would require fantasy contest sites like FanDuel and Draft Kings to register with the Georgia Department of Revenue and pay annual fees to operate in the state. Georgia would also collect a six percent tax on operators’ profits.
“There are a million and a half Georgians playing fantasy sports in our state today,” said Rep. Trey Kelley, R- Cedartown, the bill’s main sponsor. “The premise behind this bill, the main thing is just to make sure there’s some consumer protections in place for those who operate.”
Religious interests, however, oppose the bill. Mike Griffin of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board said he sees the legislation as a way to legalize gambling.
“It’s absolutely no different than what you saw with casinos trying to call them ‘destination resorts,’ trying to call these ‘contests,’“ said Griffin. “It’s more lipstick on more pigs, just trying to change and trying to deceive people into believing it’s something that it’s not.”
Rep. Kelley refutes that claim.
“This is something that I believe is a game of skill much like bass fishing or a golf tournament or a skeet shoot. I think I’ve made that clear. I’ll let them spread the falsehoods that they want to,” said Rep. Kelley.
A Senate committee approved the bill on Monday and it must now head to the full Senate for a vote in order to become law.