An Even Dozen: Daily Fantasy Sports Now Legal In 12 States After Vermont Enacts Law

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Dozen DFS states

Vermonters can now enjoy legal fantasy sports and Ben & Jerry’s at the same time.

Gov. Phil Scott signed a bill legalizing and regulating paid-entry fantasy sports into law on Thursday, making it the 12th state to enact such a law.

DFS is technically legal in Nevada, as well. However, a gaming license is required in that state, and no previously existing DFS site has procured such a license.

Vermont and the DFS law

The legislature passed a DFS bill in May, but just sent the bill (S 136) to the governor this week. Scott signed it on Thursday.

More on the contents of the bill here; suffice it to say it mimics many of the laws passed in other states. The law institutes some basic regulations and consumer protections while creating a low barrier to entry for operators.

Here’s a statement for a spokesperson for both DraftKings and FanDuel:

“More than 100,000 — and growing — fantasy sports fans can now breathe easy, as the state has made it crystal clear: fantasy sports are welcome in Vermont On behalf of those fans, we want to thank Governor Scott and the legislature, particularly Senators Kevin Mullin and Dick Sears and Representatives Bill Botzow and Michael Marcotte —  for updating state law to affirm fantasy sports are legal and establish some common-sense regulations for all companies to ensure consumers are protected.

We look forward to continuing to work with Governor Scott’s team, Attorney General Donovan and members of the legislature on a final, comprehensive regulatory and tax structure.”

The final bill instructs the executive branch to come up with a tax rate for fantasy sports revenue in the state.

Of note: the law likely does not affect 100,000 people in Vermont, a state with a population just over 600,000. There may be that many fantasy sports players. But not all of them play at paid-entry fantasy sites that are covered under this law.

Why Vermont was important

DraftKings and FanDuel served Vermont, as did many other operators. They did so, however, despite what appeared to be a negative legal climate in the state.

The office of former Attorney General William Sorrell (he did not run for reelection in 2016) apparently believed the sites were operating in violation of 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.”

The new law clears up any worries on DFS’ legality.

Vermont is one of a variety of states where AG’s have weighed in on DFS and whether it is legal under their statutes.

Other states and DFS

Here’s the list of states that have passed laws expressly legalizing DFS:

Arkansas is the only state to join that list this year. The legality of laws enacted in Maryland and New York have been questioned; there’s a court case in the latter about a 2016 law’s constitutionality.

Other states are making progress on fantasy sports bills as well, including IllinoisPennsylvania, Ohio and New Hampshire, among others.