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The Minnesota House moves to regulate fantasy football

Freedom is the essence of the American experiment. The national anthem calls the United States “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” The Declaration of Independence argues that all men, created equal, “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Someone might want to remind legislators in Saint Paul of that. As Action4Liberty reports,

A bill is up for a vote today in the Minnesota House that would create imposing regulations on people who operate fantasy football games. HF1415 authored by Tony Albright (R-55B) would require “game operators offering a fantasy game with an entry fee in this state” to comply with newly created regulations.

Among some of the regulations included in the bill are a prohibition for fantasy game operators from playing in their own game; how winners can be selected; and forbidding athletes in the sport to participate in that league. Recently, Minnesota Timberwolves star Jimmy Butler made news that he joined a fans NBA fantasy league. It appears this would have been illegal under the new law.

Of course, some restrictions on our freedoms are necessary. The freedom to hurt people or steal their stuff should be circumscribed because this prevents the victims from living free themselves.

But fantasy sports? Really? Even King George would have left that alone.

Presumably the injunctions on game operators playing in their own game and athletes participating in certain leagues are intended to prevent fiddling or insider information from making the game unfair. But if the players think a particular game is rigged they just won’t play it. If they know that the owner is playing or that Mikko Koivu is part of their fantasy hockey game and are willing to accept that, why should they not be able to?

The legislative presumption in the United States should be for freedom. If that is to be curtailed then the bar ought to be set pretty high. All too often it isn’t, as this misguided bill demonstrates.

John Phelan is an economist at the Center of the American Experiment. 

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