By Sheila Burke, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee’s Legislature passed a bill that would make clear that fantasy sports betting is legal, but would also regulate it and put a tax on it.
The Senate passed the Fantasy Sports Tax Act on Tuesday, and the bill (HB2105) is now on its way to the governor. The legislation follows a state attorney general issued legal opinion issued earlier this month that said fantasy sports contests are illegal gambling.
The measure 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 6 percent gambling tax on the adjusted revenue of 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.