State Politics

Fantasy sports could be regulated under new NC House bill

N.C. House legislators want people running fantasy sports contests to register with the state.

House Bill 279 would put the secretary of state’s office in charge of regulating the growing industry. Fantasy sports are online games in which players select virtual teams consisting of real-life athletes, then compete with other teams with scores based on how the athletes perform.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Jason Saine of Lincolnton, said the new regulations wouldn’t have a major impact on how the games operate.

“It’s obviously becoming very popular very quickly,” Saine said Wednesday, adding that other states have already passed similar legislation. “We certainly want to make sure we have some guidelines and some ways to regulate that.”

Saine’s bill makes a clear distinction between fantasy sports contests and betting on individual sporting events, requiring that winning outcomes “be determined by accumulated statistical results of the performance of individuals.”

The bill also says the games “do not constitute gambling, lotteries and gaming” as regulated under other state laws. Fantasy sports games would be limited to players age 18 or older, and operators would be required to pay a registration fee equal to 10 percent of their contest revenues from the previous year.

The registration fee would be a minimum of $2,500 but would be capped at $10,000.

Saine said the registrations would allow the state to collect information about the industry, “so we know exactly what’s going on as a legislature and as public policy makers. If future changes are needed, we’ve got a framework to start that.”

Saine has bipartisan support for his proposal. The bill’s co-sponsors include Democratic Reps. Ed Hanes of Winston-Salem and Duane Hall of Raleigh, as well as Republican Rep. Jon Hardister of Greensboro.