Fantasy sports lobbying picks up

Fantasy sports lobbying picks up
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The end of 2015 saw an uptick in lobbying related to the controversial daily fantasy sports industry, according to disclosure forms.

Daily fantasy website DraftKings spent $80,000 in the last three months of the year on outside lobbying help, according to their filing. Rival FanDuel spent $50,000 on lobbying services from law firm Steptoe and Johnson.

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It was the first full quarter in which the firms lobbied in Washington.

Both registered their first lobbying firms days after House Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) sent a letter to Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) requesting hearings on the websites and their ties to professional sports leagues. Upton quickly said he was open to the idea of holding a hearing, though the committee has yet to schedule one.

The controversy over the websites centers on their relatively new approach to a classic game. Traditional fantasy sports see players draft faux teams of real-life players in a sport and compete against other people in a season-long league. Daily fantasy sports expands the idea, allowing users to compete in single-day competitions in a wide range of sports.

Critics argue that the websites essentially offer alternative venues for sports gambling. The services say their games rely on a player’s skill, not chance.

FanDuel and DraftKings are the most prominent daily fantasy websites — but Yahoo, which offers fantasy sports products among its many other services, lobbied on “issues related to fantasy sports” as well in the final quarter of 2015.

The American Gaming Association also lobbied on daily fantasy sports issues late last year, according to its filing.

Major League Baseball, which was reportedly instrumental in protecting fantasy sports from a 2006 federal anti-sports betting law, also lobbied on fantasy sports issues in the final three months of the year. They also recently registered a new outside lobbying firm.