New fantasy sports bills introduced in US states

Efforts to regulate fantasy sports contests continue across the United States, with Alabama, Montana, Ohio and Pennsylvania all taking recent legislative action.

Alabama's HB354 first introduced on March 2nd, was amended last week by the State Government Committee to replace the previously proposed revenue-based tiered registration fee with one based on the number of active player accounts in the preceding 24 months.

This would see operators with more than 5,000 active player accounts in Alabama charged a registration fee of $85,000, falling to $5,000 for those with fewer than 5,000 active players or those that have not previously operated in the state.

The bill has also been amended to include a 6 per cent annual tax on operators' gross revenue.
Montana Representative Forrest Mandeville introduced House Joint Resolution 21 on March 15th, calling for a committee to be established to study fantasy sports .

Mandeville's resolution states that there is a question as to whether Montana gambling laws related to participation in certain online fantasy sports constitutes illegal gambling, requiring a review of the current statutory scheme legalising fantasy sports. The resolution calls for the study to be concluded prior to September 15, 2018.

A bill to regulate fantasy sports contests was introduced in Ohio on March 16th. HB132 aims to give the Ohio Casino Control Commission jurisdiction over fantasy sports, with all operators required to secure a licence in order to serve Ohio residents.

In addition to standard player protection and competition integrity measures, the bill proposes a non-refundable initial licence fee and subsequent renewal fee of $30,000, with the term of each licence to be determined by the commission but not exceeding three years.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania saw a standalone fantasy sports bill introduced. Fantasy sports regulations have been included in a number of wider gambling reform bills currently before the Pennsylvania legislature, but HB865, introduced on March 16th, focuses solely on fantasy sports.

It seeks to amend the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes to provide for fantasy sports contests under the authority of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, which would be required to draw up temporary regulations that would expire no later than two years following enactment of the bill.

The board would also be required to determine the non-refundable licence application fee, which may not exceed 5 per cent of an operators adjusted revenue in the previous year. This would be in addition to a licence fee of $50,000 or an amount equivalent to 7.5 per cent of the applicant's fantasy contest adjusted revenue for the Previous calendar year, whichever is less. Licences would be valid for five years and subject to a quarterly tax of 12 per cent of adjusted revenue.

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