In attempts to lessen the uncertainty that still surrounds the legality of fantasy sports, Maryland and Florida introduced measures to clarify the rules of the road for the likes of DraftKings Inc. and FanDuel Inc. Maryland’s regulations, adopted by the state Office of the Comptroller, went into effect January 2, while Florida’s House of Representatives has yet to consider the new bill introduced January 4.
The Maryland regulations set the minimum age for players at 18, rather than 21 as in other states, and prohibit the depiction of minors or students—a prohibition which, in effect, restricts daily fantasy sports operators from offering college-based fantasy leagues. Professional athletes may not participate in contests in their sport. From a financial perspective, the regulations limit participant monthly deposits to $1,000 and do not include a high registration fee for operators. In the other states that have passed legislation or issued regulations in this area, the restrictions on fantasy sports operators are generally stricter.
The Florida bill, H.B. 14, would make clear that fantasy sports contests are not illegal in the state, which prohibits gambling. The bill’s sponsor compared fantasy sports contests to fishing or bowling contests based in part on skill. The bill would require that the value of all prizes be made known to participants at the start of play, and that the outcome of the contests be based on the skill or knowledge of the players.
Takeaway: Now that increasing numbers of states are articulating the legal parameters of fantasy sports, advertisers have more to guide them in determining the risks of running promotions that some regulators may consider to be illegal lotteries. Stay tuned as more states step in to corral or legitimize the wild west of online fantasy sports games.