Fantasy Sports in Casinos: Pennsylvania Bill To License, Tax Brick-And-Mortar DFS Tournaments

Written By

Updated on

Pennsylvania Highway road Sign

A group of Pennsylvania representatives has introduced a bill that would allow casinos in the state to offer daily fantasy sports contests, on property.

What the bill will do

Representative George Dunbar (R) announced his intention to introduce the bill in a memo seeking co-sponsors last week:

Presently most fantasy sports tournaments take place on internet sites like Fanduel. My legislation will allow our casinos to hold their own fantasy tournaments within the confines of the casino upon payment of a $50,000 licensing fee. The rules and regulations for this activity will be determined by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

The bill (House Bill 1197) was actually introduced on Wednesday and was referred to the House Committee on Gaming Oversight. Bill tracking here; full text here. Dunbar’s bill has seven co-sponsors, currently.

The language of the bill alters Title 4 (Amusements) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, adding a chapter to deal with fantasy sports. Here are some the most important details of the bill:

The bill also defines fantasy sports much like the carveout for fantasy sports in the UIGEA and in other state legislation. It also authorizes the PGCB to create further regulations for DFS tournaments.

It appears the bill would allow current DFS providers to work with gaming facilities to provide an online architecture for a fantasy sports contest. But players would have to pay the entry fee for the contest while on site at a casino.

Joining the crowd

Pennsylvania becomes the ninth state to consider legislation dealing with daily fantasy sports this year.

Here’s a quick rundown of the bills:

This isn’t the first time the subject of fantasy sports came up in Pennsylvania this year. Pennsylvania State Representative John Payne, the Chairman of the House Gaming Oversight Committee, broached the subject in March:

“For me, I’d rather have Internet gambling, fantasy sports betting, fix the small games of chance bill [bar machines], than vote to raise income or sales taxes,” Payne said.

The bill also comes at a time when casinos in Pennsylvania and online poker and iGaming operators are partnering with each other as a bill legalizing online gaming picks up momentum.

So…DFS, in a casino?

It’s not exactly clear how DFS contests would work in Pennsylvania, but will have to be contested on property. The bill brings up a lot of questions, which will likely be ironed out if the PGCB is tasked with creating regulations for contests:

Intersection of casinos and DFS

The idea of brick-and mortar establishments providing DFS isn’t a new one, and it’s a subject that has come a lot recently in the gaming and fantasy sports industries.

Jim Murren, CEO of MGM Resorts International, recently said people who consider DFS something other than gambling are “absolutely, utterly wrong,” just last week. He also alluded to the idea that MGM was looking at launching a DFS site, but those plans have been put on hold.

The subject also came up at the recently held Global iGaming Summit & Expo (GiGse). Among the comments:

Monmouth Park in New Jersey is working on launching a DFS product. And MGT Capital Investments and Seneca Gaming Corporation recently announced they are partnering in New York to launch DFS games online and in-house.

How will it shake out in Pennsylvania? Providing DFS contests in casinos appears to be pretty noncontroversial. And it seems like we are seeing real momentum for brick-and-mortar establishments to offer DFS.

Photo by Doug Kerr used under license CC BY-SA 2.0.