Washington, one of five states in the country to currently have an outright prohibition on fantasy sports contests, is reportedly kicking the tires on legalization. The Washington State Gambling Commission (the “WSGC”) is set to discuss the industry at a public meeting scheduled for this week. The WSGC has previously taken the position that online fantasy sports are considered illegal sports wagering under Washington State law. However, the WSGC is set is consider certain industry-specific topics, including a contrasting examination of why fantasy sports are not legal in Washington compared with those states that have authorized fantasy sports under their respective laws.

What other indications has Washington shown towards legalization?

Washington State Senator Michael Baumgartner, the chairman of the State’s Commerce and Labor Committee, also announced that he intends to hold hearings on November 20 to discuss proposals to allow fantasy sports operators to offer prize money in connection with such contests. Earlier this year, a bill was introduced in the State Senate that sought to classify fantasy sports as a game of skill so that the contests could be offered legally within the State. However, shortly after the bill’s introduction, several lawmakers identified fantasy sports as a gambling product, and there was no subsequent further action taken on the bill. As part of his announcement regarding the hearings, Sen. Baumgartner offered a concession that there may be a problem with the current law in Washington when thousands of the State’s citizens break it every day by participating in fantasy sports contests, despite the statewide ban.

Keep Your Fantasy Sports Venture Legal

As the fantasy sports industry, and the laws and regulations that govern it, continue to grow and evolve, it is essential that fantasy sports operators keep abreast of the developing legal landscape. In addition to Washington’s potential effort to legalize the industry within the State, Illinois, California and Massachusetts have also indicated their respective inclination towards regulation, while Congress has recently announced its intention to conduct fantasy sports-related hearings. Accordingly, operators should regularly review their respective contest platforms, entry fees, prize structures and marketing campaigns with knowledgeable counsel in order to effectively navigate this rapidly changing regulatory framework.