Tennessee House approves Fantasy Sports Tax Act

Tennessee House approves Fantasy Sports Tax Act

April 19th, 2016 by Associated Press in Politics State

FILE - In this Sept. 9, 2015 file photo, Len Don Diego, marketing manager for content at the DraftKings daily fantasy sports company, works at his station at the company's offices in Boston. Daily fantasy sports companies have said their industry remains viable despite a rocky start to 2016. ESPN and DraftKings ended an exclusive advertising deal, and FanDuel confirmed it was laying off 55 workers in its Orlando, Fla., office. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia, File)

Photo by The Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Tennessee Capitol

Tennessee Capitol

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE — Tennessee's Legislature is close to passing a bill that would make clear that fantasy sports betting is legal, but would also regulate it and put a tax on it.

The House on Monday night passed the Fantasy Sports Tax Act. The move came after the state attorney general issued a legal opinion earlier this month saying that fantasy sports contests are illegal gambling.

The Senate already has passed a similar bill but would have to agree to changes made in the House. The House version says online companies that offer the contests must be licensed by the state. The measure also generally limits players to betting no more than $2,500 per month, unless they can show that the limit should be increased. And it would allow the state to impose a gambling tax on fantasy sport operators.

In fantasy sports, players assemble imaginary teams made up of professional sports figures. These virtual teams compete against each other based on how well the real professional players wind up performing in the real world.

Fantasy football is a billion-dollar industry. Several states across the country have wrestled with the question of whether the popular games played by millions of Americans should be banned outright or face more regulation. Last year nearly 30 legislatures considered proposals to outright ban the games, legalize them or regulate them.

A fiscal analysis of the legislation says that, based on state Department of Revenue figures, about $42 million is spent annually in Tennessee on fantasy sports.