The state of Tennessee’s estimated 1 million fantasy sports customers, and companies such as DraftKings and FanDuel, would be on solid legal ground under a bill overwhelmingly approved by state senators. The bill still needs to make it through the House.
After the 29-1 vote in the Senate, Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, Senate Commerce Committee chairman, said that he and other proponents of the bill have been working with state Attorney General Herbert Slatery to first establish that fantasy sports involves some amount of skill and therefore, is not a lottery. With the exception of the state lottery, gambling is banned by the Tennessee Constitution.
While a formal legal opinion on fantasy sports was not issued by Slattery, Johnson said, “guidance that they did not see fantasy sports as a lottery,” was provided by him and his attorneys, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Johnson said, “Then you have to deal with it in statute.”
The bill would ensure fantasy sports are legal in Tennessee. Another requirement is for guidelines to be set up by the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office for companies to register and be charged processing fees. Johnson also said that a legal presence would be established in Tennessee by requiring registration, as well as requiring fantasy sports companies to pay the state corporate taxes.
Most recently, lawmakers in Colorado are preparing to join approximately 30 legislatures in capitols nationwide considering proposals to regulate, restrict or ban altogether fantasy sports leagues that offer games where players compete for cash prizes online by building rosters of real-life athletes. And last Friday, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed a bill which allows fantasy sports to be regulated by the state’s gambling commission and to charge the companies a licensing fee and an annual renewal fee. Earlier this month in Virginia, a similar law was signed, and legislation resembling that measure is being considered in other states.
Meanwhile, DraftKings announced last week they plan on complying fully with new regulations filed by the Attorney General of Massachusetts, Maura Healey, created to oversee daily fantasy sports operations in the state.