Virginia Becomes the First US State to Formally Legalize Daily Fantasy Sports
March 17, 2016
On March 7, Virginia became the first US state to make Daily Fantasy Sports officially legal under state law. The ‘Fantasy Contests Act’ was signed into law by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe.
“This bill, which was passed by super majorities of both chambers, will empower Virginia to regulate this emerging industry and keep consumers safe from abuses,” said a McAuliffe spokesperson.
“I think this is a great first step,” said delegate Marcus B. Simon, Democrat and co-sponsor of the bill. “I think it’s important that we get this started. Right now we have the industry’s cooperation, and I think we need it because not a lot of people know a whole lot about this and how it works.”
“With the proper oversight, playing fantasy sports is a skill-based hobby people should be allowed to enjoy,” said the bill’s other sponsor, delegate Ryan T. McDougle, Republican.
The bill includes a battery of regulatory features and consumer protections against insider trading. The state charges operators fifty thousand dollars in licensing fees, with renewal fees yet to be decided upon by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The fees will go towards administrative costs.
As with most other states, 18 year olds are barred from participating in daily fantasy sports contests of any kind. In fact, co-sponsor Simon was reportedly inspired by his ten year old son’s online exposure to Daily Fantasy Sports advertisements.
Violators of the Fantasy Contests Act are fined $1,000 for each infringement.
Daily fantasy sports players pay entry fees, and must be notified of the prospective prizes in advance. One interesting detail in the Fantasy Contests Act text is that Daily Fantasy Sports, defined as a contest of skill, can have “no winning outcome is based on the score, point spread, or any performance of any single actual team or combination of teams or solely on any single performance of an individual athlete or player in any single actual event.” This ensures that knowledge of statistics takes primacy over raw luck by decreasing the amount of variables in play.
With passage of the Fantasy Contest Act, Virginia has built the model for other states to follow. California, Mississippi, Florida, Vermont, and neighbor West Virginia all can boast bills passed by one branch of their respective states’ legislatures. In Indiana, a Daily Fantasy Sports bill is held up only for lacking a signature from governor Mike Pence.