Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Fantasy sports debate touches down in California

Len Don Diego, marketing manager for content at DraftKings, a daily fantasy sports company, works at his station at the company’s offices in Boston on Sept. 9, 2015.
Len Don Diego, marketing manager for content at DraftKings, a daily fantasy sports company, works at his station at the company’s offices in Boston on Sept. 9, 2015. AP

Fantasy sports leagues have exploded in popularity over the last few years, driven in part by companies like DraftKings and FanDuel enticing customers with cash payouts. Elected officials have taken notice as the activity has migrated from sedate rotisserie leagues to multi-million dollar enterprises.

The legal debate revolves around the question of whether the leagues offer games of skill or games of chance. In New York, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman maintains the sites amount to illegal gambling and told the companies to stop taking bets. Here in California, while Attorney General Kamala Harris mulls what she might do (a spokesman said the office “cannot comment on any potential or ongoing investigations”), Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, has introduced a bill to create a regulatory system for fantasy sports.

Today the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee, where Gray has made his mark as the chair and explored authorizing Internet poker, will hold a hearing on regulating the fantasy sports industry. Daily fantasy companies will be heavily represented, with the DraftKings team bringing out former Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, and a few fantasy sports players are expected to speak. The only scheduled witness who works for California is a deputy legislative counsel, the Legislature’s legal adviser.

Things get underway at 1 p.m. in Room 4202 of the Capitol. Watch the webcast on the California Channel.

WATERWAYS: You may remember the big fight over the water bond on the 2014 ballot centering on how much money would go toward storage projects. Today the California Water Commission will consider regulations for what types of projects qualify for some of the $2.7 billion storage pot. It sounds technical, but that language is crucial to agricultural interests, major water importers and environmentalists all hoping to shape how California spends money on dams, reservoirs, groundwater systems and other storage projects. The meeting starts at 9:30 in the Resources Building on Ninth Street. Watch here.

TAKING A-CREDIT: College accreditation has been much in the news amid City College of San Francisco’s struggles and official criticism of the outfit that signs off on California community colleges. Today the federal Department of Education will examine that accrediting organization during a meeting in Virginia, gathering information that will feed an ultimate decision on its status. The long list of California players expected to testify include California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice Harris and dozens of community college educators and students.

MENTALITY: Californians with mental illness continue to face long lines and coverage issues when they seek care. Today a joint hearing of the Senate Committee on Health and the Select Committee on Mental Health will examine why those issues persist, calling witnesses such as Department of Managed Health Care director Shelley Rouillard, Department of Insurance Janice Rocco and a range of healthcare industry folks.

UNCLE LELAND: If you’ve been eagerly waiting to learn how much prison time awaits former state Sen. Leland Yee after pleading guilty to a felony racketeering count, sorry. Yee’s sentencing, which was scheduled for today, has been pushed back to February.

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert

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