RICHMOND, VA, March 7, 2015 – Today, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed into law the “Fantasy Contests Act” which establishes a legal framework for fantasy sports operating in the state. The first-in-the-nation legislation provides numerous consumer protections for fantasy sports players as well as additional oversight by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Companies that operate online fantasy sports platforms such as FanDuel and DraftKings are required to register with the state and pay a licensing fee to cover the cost of the oversight. The Virginia General Assembly passed the legislation on February 24 by a wide margin with strong bipartisan support.
The legislation was introduced by Senator Ryan McDougle (SB 646) and Delegate Jackson Miller (HB 775) in order to regulate the growing activity and provide consumer protections for those who play. More than 1.2 million Virginians play fantasy sports each year in a variety of sports, including football, baseball, basketball, hockey and golf. Delegate Marcus Simon was a chief co-patron of the House bill.
“I introduced this bill because even though I don’t regularly play fantasy sports, I believe that it is important for Virginia to provide consumer protections for the Virginians who do play,” said Delegate Jackson Miller.
Consumer protections in the bill include:
- Requires fantasy sports sites to implement policies intended to verify that all participants are 18 years or older,
- Prevents sharing of confidential information that could affect fantasy contest play with third parties until the information is made publicly available,
- Requires player funds to be segregated from a company’s operational funds,
- Bans employees of fantasy sports site (as well as relatives living in the same household) from competing in public fantasy sports contests for cash prizes on any site, and
- Requires fantasy sports companies to undergo two independent yearly audits of their operations to ensure compliance with all regulations.
“This is an important day for the future of fantasy sports,” said Senator Ryan McDougle. “Virginia is leading the way in establishing strong consumer protections while sending a clear message that, with the proper oversight, playing fantasy sports is a skill-based hobby people should be allowed to enjoy. Although it is already legal to play fantasy sports in Virginia, this legislation provides additional consumer safeguards. I am that pleased Virginia is the first state to regulate fantasy sports sites, allowing Virginians to continue playing the games they love.”
“Consumer protections are critical to ensure that companies can’t take advantage of Virginians who are participating in fantasy sports contests,” said Delegate Marcus Simon. “With the increasing number of people enjoying this activity, I believed it was important to get these types of protections in place this year and I’m pleased that this first-in-the-country legislation passed with strong bipartisan support.”
Griffin Finan, Director of Public Affairs for DraftKings, stated, “Today, Virginia became the first state in the nation this year to put in place a thoughtful and appropriate regulatory framework to protect the rights of fantasy players. We thank Governor McAuliffe for his leadership and advocacy and are hopeful that other states across the country will follow Virginia’s lead.”
Cory Fox, Counsel for Policy and Government Affairs for FanDuel, said, “Governor McAuliffe and members of the Virginia legislature took a thoughtful, deliberative approach to establishing a law that safeguards fantasy sports while installing consumer protections. Virginia showed real leadership in being the first state to pass smart regulations this year and we hope to see more states follow Virginia’s lead in the months ahead.”