Atlanta Braves Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Glavine waded into a contentious debate at the Georgia statehouse on Tuesday as he struck out in support of a measure that would legalize fantasy sports by declaring the Internet-based contests games of skill rather than chance.
Glavine avoided specific mention of House Bill 118, the measure sponsored by state Rep. Trey Kelley that has already cleared the House and is pending in the Senate. But he served as a pitchman for fantasy sports as a way to help fans better connect with the players on the field.
"It enhances and changes how I watch games," said Glavine. "For anyone who thinks they can do better than another team's general manager, this gives them their chance to do that."
The measure is part of a nationwide, state-by-state effort by the industry to reclassify the contests so they don't run afoul of state prohibitions on gambling. And with the failure of a bill to legalize casino gambling this year, anti-gambling advocates have put their full focus on grounding this proposal.
"It's clearly gambling. I can't believe our Legislature is sidestepping this issue," said Virginia Galloway, the regional director for the Faith and Freedom Coalition. "They are going against our constitution. And everyone knows it. It's really sad that somebody is using their fame to make that argument."
Glavine drew laughter when he talked about fans wandering up to him to urge him to "pick it up" because he was on their fantasy team. Kelley, R-Cedartown, likened it to other games of skill, such as bass fishing, and said he had high hopes it would pass the Senate in the last days of the legislative session.
"I'm as confident as anyone can be by the end of the session," he said.