If early indications are any guide, 2015 will be a frenzied year for state legislation surrounding real-money fantasy sports play.
Iowa yesterday became the fourth state this year to see legislative action addressing fantasy sports, joining Indiana, Montana and Washington State with the introduction of HSB 47.
Full text of the bill is available here. HSB 47 is a “study bill,” meaning that it will need to first clear committee before being formally introduced.
Iowa is currently blocked by most – but not all – major daily fantasy sports sites.
Keeping with the trend: brief is better
Like bills in Washington and Montana, HSB 47 is an incredibly short affair.
The bill adds a single paragraph to Section 99B.11 (2) of the Iowa code, a section that defines “Bona Fide Contests” (events that are effectively exempt from Iowa’s definition of gambling):
A fantasy or simulation sports contest in which all prizes and awards offered to winning participants are established and made known to the participants in advance of the contest and the value of the prizes or awards is not determined by the number of participants or the amount of any fees paid by the participants. All winning outcomes in such contest shall reflect the relative knowledge and skill of the participants and shall be determined predominantly by accumulated statistical results of the performance of individuals, including athletes in the case of sports events, in multiple actual sporting or other events, and no winning outcome shall be based on the score, point spread, or any performance or performances of any single actual team or combination of such teams or solely on any single performance of an individual athlete in any single actual sporting or other event.
That brevity stands in stark contrast to the relatively voluminous drafts for regulating online poker (e.g., AB 9 in California).
Like Washington, Iowa’s definition of a fantasy sports competition draws from the description found in the UIGEA.
Unlike Washington’s, Iowa’s definition is a bit tighter in terms of potentially allowing fantasy contests beyond those based on sporting events.
Full text and bill tracking information is available here.
FSTA offers support, optimism for bill
One of the key drivers of the bill: the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.
Four separate lobbyist declarations in support of HSB 47 are connected to the FSTA.
“We simply want to clarify Iowa law to be consistent with the Federal definition of fantasy sports so Iowans can compete in these contests and win prizes like most other Americans,” Peter Schoenke, Chairman of the FSTA, told me via email.
“We’re seeing increased support this year,” Schoenke added, “so we’re optimistic the bill will pass both chambers this year.”