We are still waiting for online poker to get started in Pennsylvania, but let’s not forget that the bill was more than just online poker – it was a massive gambling expansion bill. Among other things, it also legalized daily fantasy sports in the Keystone State. And within the last couple weeks, daily fantasy contests finally launched. Well, regulated fantasy contests finally launched.
Fantasy sports players in Pennsylvania have been able to participate in DFS contests prior to the activation of regulations, it’s just that DFS was in a bit of a legal gray area. What happened a couple weeks ago was that the official roll-out of the regulated forms of the games occurred. DFS customers probably didn’t even notice.
“Pennsylvanians who already participate in Fantasy Sports Contests with any of these firms will see no difference in game play nor need to re-register,” said Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) Executive Director Kevin O’Toole in a press release. “The Gaming Control Board urges, however, that players review the eligibility guidelines on the web sites of these Fantasy Sports Contest operators prior to attempting to participate in play.”
The key point of eligibility is that customers must be at least 18-years old to play.
O’Toole said the PGCB received Fantasy Sports Operator applications from the following sites:
Fantasy Football Players Championship
FantasyDraft told Legal Sports Report that it did apply for a license, despite not being on the list released by the PGCB.
“This roll-out also marks the beginning for Pennsylvania to create new revenue through the taxation of entry fees from players registered in Pennsylvania to participate in fantasy sports contests,” O’Toole notes. “Pennsylvania residents that enter Fantasy Sports Contests can know that they are participating in a fair playing environment and assured that each licensed operator meets standards set out in the law and regulated by the Gaming Control Board.”
That tax is 15 percent on adjusted revenues, paid monthly. The licensing fee is fairly minimal, just $50,000 for five years.
The last couple years saw many states quickly pass legislation to legalize and regulate daily fantasy sports. Though not much in that regard has been going on lately, nearly 20 states now have fully legal DFS. Fortuntely, that doesn’t mean fantasy sports fans in most other states can’t play. There are only nine states where daily fantasy sports have been made illegal or are considered illegal by the Attorney General and therefore have seen DFS operators pull out of the market. The rest of the states without specifically legalized DFS are still in play, as DFS is not explicitly illegal. Here in Georgia, for instance, daily fantasy sports isn’t technically legal, but as there is no law on the books outlawing it and the state AG hasn’t ruled that it is disallowed, I can play to my heart’s content.
The legal battle for DFS sites has largely revolved around the argument that DFS is a game of skill and, in some cases, whether or not it even matters. Typically, in states where DFS is forbidden, the contests were determined to be illegal gambling based on the state law. The bright side in some cases is that it is possible to change the law to exempt DFS from the gambling code and create separate regulations for the games. Of course, lawmakers need to have the desire to actually push for the changes, but that’s another story entirely.