Tuesday, March 8, 2016 : FANTASY SPORTS FIRST FOR STATE OF VIRGINIA (Update)
Governor signs fantasy sports bill into law.
The Virginia legislative system has wasted no time in legalising fantasy sports in the state, quickly following last week's legislative approval with Governor Terry McAuliffe's imprimatur making Virginia the first US state to regulate the genre, which includes daily fantasy sports as well as season-long competitions.
A last-ditch attempt by season-long fantasy sports operators to exclude daily fantasy sports from the bill's provisions failed.
SB646, the “Fantasy Contests Act,” stipulates that all players be 18 years or older and bans employees and immediate relatives from participating in contests. Operators must also keep player funds separate from the company's operational funds, pay a $50,000 fee to operate in the state and submit to an annual audit of their operations by the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
The Governor's office said in a statement: “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.”
The House of Delegates passed its version of the bill 80-20, followed by the Senate, which passed it 31-9.
Major daily fantasy sports operator DraftKings, which lobbied vigorously for the bill, commented:
"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 Governor 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."
However, not everyone is happy with the new law, and some of the smaller season-long operators say the fees it imposes will put them out of business in Virginia, and that the daily fantasy sports genre constitutes gambling.
Rather belatedly, the industry's trade body, the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, expressed reservations about the high fees in the bill and their potential impact on smaller operators.
Other opponents claim that the broad language of SB646 could open the intrastate door to alternative forms of online gambling and the rising eSports industry