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Fantasy sports may get their own place in state law

Graphic courtesy House Republican Caucus

Minnesotans love fantasy sports. More than 1 million people participate each year, making the state a so-called “hotbed” of gamers, but there is ambiguity in state law on whether these are legal.

Rep. Tim Sanders (R-Blaine) sponsors HF2540 that would codify the experience in state statute and provide a definition for fantasy sports with an entry fee, noting that it is not a lottery or other form of betting.

The House passed the bill 100-28 Monday. It now moves to the Senate where Senate President Sandy Pappas (DFL-St. Paul) is the sponsor.  

HF2540 is heard on the House Floor

“The purpose of the bill is to take something that is so important to many Minnesotans — daily weekly, seasonal fantasy sports — and to codify it in statute that it is legal, that it is fun and helps build community,” Sanders said in a press conference earlier in the day.

According to the nonpartisan House Research Department, fantasy sports is a game where a participant selects a virtual team of real-world athletes, which then competes against other virtual teams in a variety of contest formats.

Sanders said the consumer of fantasy sports will not be impacted in their game-play but operators will face stricter regulations.

“This is probably one of the strongest bills in the country when it comes to fantasy sports consumer protections,” he said.

The bill, as successfully amended by Sanders on the House Floor, would provide 16 consumer protections. Among them, the operator must implement reasonable procedures to:

  • prevent a game operator from being a participant in a game that they offer;
  • verify that a player is at least 18 years of age;
  • disclose of the number of entries a single fantasy game player may submit to each game and the operator should take reasonable steps to prevent players from submitting more that the allowable number;
  • prevent employees of the game operator and relatives living in the same household, from competing in a game offered by any game in operation with a cash prize of over $5;
  • hold fantasy game player funds separately from operations funds and main a reserve in the amount of the balance available for withdrawal in player accounts;
  • use software protections that prohibit the use of third-party scripts; and
  • develop and publish procedures on how a person may file a complaint with the operator.

Rep. Joe Atkins (DFL-Inver Grove Heights) successfully added an amendment that would require a game operator to have an independent audit with the results submitted to the commissioner of public safety by March 15 of each year.

WATCH Floor debate of the bill on YouTube

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