Virginia lawmakers voted Wednesday to regulate the daily fantasy sports industry, making it the first state in the country to do so since the online contests attracted intense scrutiny last year.
The contests, most notably offered by DraftKings and FanDuel which ran near-constant national advertising for much of last year, involves online players compiling a team of athletes in a college or professional sport and earning points based on how those athletes performed that day.
Players pay to play for the chance to win up to millions of dollars depending on the contest.
A debate has persisted over whether the contests constitute gambling, with the industry adamantly opposed to any characterization that links it to gambling, saying its contests are a game of skill, not chance. Nevada's attorney general, for one, has disagreed, determining last year that the companies would need to apply for gambling licenses or else stop doing business in Nevada.
The state legislation introduced by Sen. Ryan T. McDougle, R-Hanover County, exempts the contests from the state's definition of illegal gambling and requires players be at least 18 years old, companies register by paying $50,000 to the state up front and ensure the funds dedicated to pay players is kept separate from the company's operations. The bill passed Monday in the House of Delegates 80-20 in favor and Wednesday by the Senate with a vote of 30-9. The law, which would take effect July 1 after it's signed by the governor, doesn't include a tax. The companies would register with Virginia's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
The industry, led by the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, has been lobbying more than a dozen state legislatures to pass regulation it supports.
DraftKings released a statement Wednesday calling the Virginia legislation a success and saying it hoped to replicate it elsewhere.
"Today the Virginia General Assembly took an important step toward ensuring that fans in Virginia can continue to enjoy fantasy sports contests with thoughtful and appropriate consumer protections in place," said Grifin Finan, DraftKings director of public affairs in an emailed statement.
This story was originally reported at Pilotonline.com