Senator Joe Keaveny, the Missouri Senate Minority Leader, saw the bill HB 1941, pass on a vote of 20 to 10 in the State Senate, on Tuesday; the House Bill aims to regulate fantasy sports in the state of Missouri.
DFS Legislative Move in Missouri
Missouri has a small fantasy sports fanfare but with no advance warning, lawmakers introduced a daily fantasy sports (DFS) regulatory bill on the 30th of December 2015, which passed the House vote on the 7th of April 2016 and Assembly vote on the 10th of May 2016 to become written into law the day after on the 11th of May 2016.
House Bill HB 1941
House Bill HB 1941, titled “Excludes any fantasy contest from gambling or advance gambling activity” aims to regulate fantasy sports and levy appropriate taxes on the services to generate an income for the state and make sure sufficient consumer protection is offered to its many players.
Is Fantasy Sports Gambling
The bill exclusively states that DFS shall not be considered gambling in the state of Missouri and in order to maintain their claims of being a game of skill, the operators cannot offer pre-selection of athletes to their players at any given time.
All collegiate and youth games are to be exclude from the offerings of sites such as FanDuel and DraftKings.
All operators have to acquire a licence from the Missouri Gaming Commission to offer real money tournaments in Missouri; the House suggested an annual registration fee of $5000, while the Assembly proposed on increasing that to $10,000 or 10% of their annual net revenues, whichever is lower; this difference in annual fees means that the measure must be reverted back to the house for resolution.
Under the new law, the operators have to maintain a level of transparency in their financial dealing; operating and prize money has to always be kept segregated and players should have access to all money in their accounts at all times, with winning deposited within two days and withdrawals made available within five.
The gaming commission holds the rights to audit the company’s finances, where they may investigate the employees, officers, directors, trustees and principal salaried executive staff officers and their expenses. The operator has to foot the bill for this service; they have to set up a separate Gaming Commission Fund and put aside $50,000, which the Missouri Gaming Commission has established as the maximum cost for the audit.
Legal age for participation in the state will be fixed at 18 and the operator are to take due care to verify the age of all participants. The DFS providers are also barred from advertising their services to any underage audience.
Level Playing Field
It remains the DFS service providers’ responsibility to make sure anyone with an unfair advantage or inside knowledge, such as an employee are banned from taking part in matches; they also need to make sure, no such information is released, which could offer an unfair advantage to some players over others.
They are also expected to hold some beginners only contests, where highly skilled players, who are to be identified during registration, are banned from taking part.
Finally tax shall be paid at 11.5% of net revenues, which is defined as the total money collected by the company less the amount paid out to their players, failure to make payments by the end of tax year will result in a suspension of their license till the money is settled.
The bill will face a procedural deadline of this Friday the 13th of May 2016; Keaveny told lawmakers that the latest version of the bill, which passed Tuesday, represents a compromise with Governor Jay Nixon, who has called DFS gambling on many occasion and DFS companies.