Virginia Governor Makes History In Signing DFS Bill
Legislation To Create Oversight On The Games Becomes Law
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Monday signed into law the nation’s first daily fantasy sports bill.
The state’s “Fantasy Contests Act” establishes a legal framework for fantasy sports operating in the state and provides a number of consumer protections.
The games will be under the oversight of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. DFS and season-long fantasy sports companies will be required to register with the state and pay a $50,000 licensing fee to cover the cost of the oversight. There is no tax on the gaming revenue.
The legislation was in the governor’s hand since the end of last month. The bill passed the House by a 80-20 vote and got approved by a 31-9 margin in the Senate after just a handful of weeks on the table. It moved extremely rapidly through the legislature after being introduced in January.
“This is an important day for the future of fantasy sports,” the legislation’s sponsor, Sen. Ryan McDougle, said in a statement. “Virginia is leading the way in establishing strong consumer protections while sending a clear message that, with the proper oversight, playing fantasy sports is a skill-based hobby people should be allowed to enjoy.”
He added: "Although it is already legal to play fantasy sports in Virginia, this legislation provides additional consumer safeguards. I am that pleased Virginia is the first state to regulate fantasy sports sites, allowing Virginians to continue playing the games they love.”
DFS players must be at least 18 years of age. The bill also prevents sharing of confidential information that could affect the games with third parties until the information is made publicly available, requires player funds to be segregated from a company’s operational funds, bans employees of fantasy sports site from competing in DFS and requires DFS firms to undergo two independent yearly audits of their operations.
DraftKings, a leading player in the space, said in a statement:
“Today, Virginia became the first state in the nation this year to put in place a thoughtful and appropriate regulatory framework to protect the rights of fantasy players. We thank Gov. McAuliffe for his leadership and advocacy and are hopeful that other states across the country will follow Virginia’s lead. We will continue to work actively to replicate this success with dozens of legislatures and are excited to continue these efforts.”
Many other U.S. states are taking a look at regulating the growing DFS industry. On Monday, a bill in New Jersey was introduced to do just that. According to NJ.com, roughly 30 states have looked at some form of oversight on the games. California and New York are the largest to do so.
Over in Nevada, the casino gambling capital of America, the DFS industry was forced to leave after Silver State regulators said last fall that the sites ran afoul of the law there if they operate without a sports betting license. On Monday, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and other industry stakeholders held a meeting to discuss the future of the games.
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