A fantasy sports bill has been introduced in Ohio pursuant to which the State’s gaming laws would be amended to provide the Ohio Casino Control Commission (the “Commission”) with the authority to regulate fantasy sports contests. With so few days remaining in the current legislative session, the introduction of the bill seems designed to initiate a public dialogue regarding the propriety of allowing fantasy sports contests within the State, while setting the stage for a possible vote on the measure in the 2017 session.
What are the notable provisions contained in the Ohio fantasy sports bill?
The bill envisions vesting the Commission with broad licensure and regulatory authority over fantasy sports operators, including provisions for, at a minimum, the following:
- A mandatory, non-refundable initial license fee of $30,000;
- Prohibitions against allowing an operator’s employees and family members to participate in contests and from sharing material nonpublic information with third parties;
- Establishing a limit on the maximum number of entries that a single participant can submit to a single fantasy sports contest;
- Prohibitions against participation of minors, as well as prohibition against offering contests that incorporate collegiate or high school athletic performances;
- Prohibitions against the use of scripts;
- Records retention and preservation requirements, including marketing and advertising materials;
- Requirements for operators to submit to annual independent third-party audits.
While compliant operators and contests would be exempt from prohibitions against unauthorized gaming, violators would be subject to punishment at the Commission’s discretion, which may include fines, revocations of licensure or refusal to renew licenses.
The Ongoing Need for Fantasy Sports Lawyers: Keeping Fantasy Sports Ventures Compliant
Fantasy sports contests and the laws and regulations that govern them, continue to grow and evolve. Between various legislative efforts across the country affecting the industry, conflicting opinions from attorneys general and court challenges to newly-enacted legislation, it is clear that the legal landscape of the fantasy sports space is far from settled. Against this backdrop, it remains imperative to engage a competent fantasy sports lawyer to become/remain compliant with applicable law when setting up and operating fantasy sports contests.