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Arizona and Iowa consider bills to legalise fantasy sports contests

20th February 2014 2:12 pm GMT

Two US states are looking to pass legislation that would clarify their respective gambling laws and allow residents to take part in fantasy sports competitions legally for the first time.

Arizona and Iowa are two of five US states - alongside Montana, Vermont and Louisiana – that do not cover fantasy sports in their respective state gambling laws. Although no players have yet to be prosecuted for taking part in the games which are popular in the US through ESPN, Yahoo and other online content providers.

Arizona’s Senate Committee on Commerce, Energy and Military unanimously passed a bill Wednesday which seeks to legalise participation in fantasy sports competitions.

Introduced earlier this month by Senator Adam Driggs, bill SB1468 specifies that fantasy sports competitions are not gambling and outlines guidelines for determining whether a game is a fantasy competition.

The bill defines fantasy competitions as “any fantasy or simulated sports game or educational game or contest that involves a fantasy team that is not based on the current membership of an actual team that is a member of an amateur or professional sports organization.”

The fantasy competitions must also meet several conditions including that “all prizes and awards offered to winning participants are established and made known to the participants in advance of the game or contest and the value of the prizes and awards is not determined by the number of participants or the amount of any fees paid by those participants.”

In addition, all winning outcomes must “reflect the relative knowledge and skill of the participants and are determined predominantly by accumulated statistical results of the performance of individuals in multiple real world sporting or other events”, while a winning outcome must not be based on the score, point spread or performance of any single real world team or any combination of teams or solely on any single performance of an individual athlete.

The bill was passed unanimously through Arizona’s Senate Committee on Commerce, Energy and Military this week, and now moves to the Senate floor for further approval.

A similar bill (SSB3108) was approved earlier this month by Iowa’s Senate State Government Committee, while other bills have also been proposed in the House.

Bill HF378 makes the requirements for authorized gambling between individuals applicable to gambling on fantasy sports games, while HF2128 authorises the payment of awards and prizes to participants in fantasy sports contests.

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