Daily fantasy sports bills advance in a number of US states

Legislation to regulate daily fantasy sports (DFS) continues to make progress in a number of US states, including Rhode Island which is considering regulating the product, and Maryland where lawmakers approved a bill to allow voters to decide if it should be legalised.

In Rhode Island, bill H7917 was introduced earlier this month giving oversight to the Department of Business Regulation. Licenses would cost $50,000 initially and $20,000 per year thereafter.

The state would receive 20 per cent of all funds generated from Rhode Island residents from fantasy contest operations.

Maryland lawmakers this week approved a bill which will allow voters to decide on the legality of DFS contest in the November ballot. SB976 requires the State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission to regulate the operation of online fantasy sports games, although it must adopt regulations to implement the bill.

The bill is contingent on passage of a referendum by voters in November 2016.

In addition, the Senate also passed a bill (SB980) that classifies DFS websites as illegal gambling, with the legislation to come into force if Maryland residents vote against legalizing DFS.

This bill prohibits a person from offering or participating in a commercial game or competition that includes the elements of consideration, chance and reward.

The bills were put forward after the state’s Attorney General Brian Frosh said in an opinion in January that DFS sites were illegal, and urged lawmakers to re-examine legislation due to the rising popularity of the product.

Meanwhile in Tennessee, legislation which would see the creation of an advisory task force to study fantasy sports was referred to the Senate Calendar Committee and placed on the calendar for the Government Operations Committee.

SB2109 (together with companion bill HB2105) calls on the task force to recommend any necessary statutory revisions to the state’s consumer protection laws. The bill would introduce the Fantasy Sports Contest Act of 2016 by creating the Tennessee Fantasy Sports Commission for the purpose of regulating fantasy sports contests, administratively within the Office of the Secretary of State.

In Iowa, SF166, which would amend state law to authorize the paying of awards and prizes to participants in fantasy sports contests, was passed by a House subcommittee. A proposed amendment imposes a 7.5 per cent tax on the total entry fees and charges claimed by DFS operators after the payout of all prizes and winnings from total adjusted gross revenue.

The state of Mississippi has also proposed legislation to legalise DFS contests. Bill SB2541 would create the Fantasy Contest Gaming Study Committee, which will study fantasy contests in the state.



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