Daily Fantasy Sports Industry Gains Victory After Setbacks In Texas, Florida

Written By Dustin Gouker on May 15, 2017
Vermont fantasy sports

[toc]The daily fantasy sports industry got a legislative victory in Vermont after suffering setbacks in much larger and more important states recently.

If a bill there becomes law, it will be the 12th state to pass legislation expressly legalizing DFS. It comes in the wake of an unofficial attorney general statement in 2016 saying DFS violated state gambling laws.

Vermont close to legalizing fantasy sports

The Vermont legislature recently approved a bill that would make DFS legal while also regulating it. DFS regulation is just a part of S 136, which also contains consumer protections outside of the fantasy sports industry.

Gov. Phil Scott must still sign the bill to become law. He could also veto it, or do nothing and the bill would become law within five days of transmission to his office from the statehouse. (According to the official bill page, it has not yet been sent to the governor.)

The legislature has also been delaying its adjournment, which could change the rules for the governor’s actions.

An effort to legalize DFS in 2016 in the state did not become law.

Inside the Vermont DFS bill

The bill in its final form is the result of a conference committee between the House and Senate. It looks much like regulatory efforts in other states.

Some provisions:

  • Creates a registration process with the secretary of state and gives the attorney general power to make rules overseeing the industry.
  • Sets a registration fee of $5,000 for operators. (There is currently no tax on revenue, but the legislation directs the executive branch to come up with appropriate fees and taxes with which to amend the bill.)
  • Institutes consumer protections as they relate to employee play, problem gambling, truthful advertisingsegregation of player funds and more.
  • Sets a minimum age of 18 for players.

More on the bill here.

Turning around a negative DFS climate

The DFS industry — led by DraftKings and FanDuel — had stayed in the market despite what appeared to be a negative climate.

The office of AG William Sorrell told Reuters early in 2016 that DFS likely violated state law:

“Daily fantasy sports violate Vermont’s gambling laws,” John Treadwell, a state assistant attorney general said in an interview after discussing the proposed Vermont bill with legislators. “Vermont has very strict long-standing limitations on gambling.”

Vermont is a win after losses

It’s been a mixed bag on the legalization front this year.

A pair of states have passed fantasy sports bills this year — Mississippi and Arkansas. The former was not a huge victory, as the state had already legalized the industry a year ago as a stopgap. The latter became the 11th state to legalize paid-entry fantasy sports.

The biggest prizes on the legislative map in 2017 — Texas and Florida — did not come to fruition.

Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was called in to lobby in Texas. But the bill died before even coming up for a vote in the House.

A late Hail Mary in Florida fell by the wayside.

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Dustin Gouker

Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner.

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