Virginia joins California and Indiana as a Bill declares daily fantasy sports to be non-gambling activity. The bill passed on Monday the 8th of February 2016 with a positive vote before a full chamber.
The state Senate passed bill SB 646 – Fantasy Contests Act; created, registration required, conditions of registration, civil penalty by a 28-10 vote. Changes in daily fantasy sports legislations have seen a great increase in popularity in recent months; and we are yet to see such a bill voted down either by a committee or in a general assembly anywhere in the USA. However, the 28-10 count does show a closer margin than what has been observed elsewhere in the country so far. While fantasy sports and legislation surrounding their regulation has been making quite a stir in the media, the trio of bills that were introduced in Virginia in January triggered mere ripples. They progressed through committees without much interest and coverage from fans and media alike.
The Bill SB 646, which will now be sent to the House of Delegates, intends to exempt daily fantasy sports activities from all other gambling laws. Like several other bills and legislation in different states, this bill also aims to provide consumers with clarity and basic protection from the gaming operators.
What does it mean?
Once this bill passes, daily fantasy sports operators in Virginia will be required to register with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and pay a licensing fee of USD 50,000; operators will need also to renew this registration every year. The sites are expected to set a minimum age restriction of 18 for players and ensure these age restrictions are firmly enforced. They must also take measures to prevent any employees and their immediate family members from participating in matches. All sensitive data is to be handled with care and not shared with unauthorised bodies. The sites must also set aside money to be paid out as winnings;
Operational funds and player funds must be kept separate and players must also be extended the opportunity to exclude themselves from participation in tournaments if they wish. Finally, failing to adhere to these rules will accrue a civil penalty of USD 1,000 for each offence.
Despite the lack of hype, given the popularity and need for regulation of such sporting activities, bill SB646 may be one of the first bills of its kind to become law.
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