Delaware guv signs tax- and fee-heavy fantasy sports legislation


delaware-daily-fantasy-sports-lawDelaware has become the 14th US state to authorize daily fantasy sports operations, just as the state’s real-money online gambling market took a nosedive.

On Wednesday, Delaware Gov. John Carney signed HB 249, which legislators approved on June 30. The bill amends the state’s lottery law to clarify that “interactive fantasy sports are not games of chance” due to the overwhelming skill it takes to ask a computer program to spit out 300 slightly different fantasy lineups.

The bill also states that fantasy sports aren’t “wagers on future contingent events not under the contestants’ control or influence” because the outcome doesn’t depend on a single sporting event or the performance of a single athlete. As a result, DFS no longer qualifies as illegal gambling under Delaware law.

The bill requires would-be Delaware DFS operators to pay the state an annual fee of $50k, plus 15% of gross revenue derived from Delaware players. As a result, Delaware’s legal DFS market will most assuredly be out of reach to anyone other than the sector’s big boys, aka DraftKings and FanDuel.

Carney signed HB 249 into law nearly one year after the state’s legal eagles ordered all DFS operators to block Delaware players because DFS was illegal gambling. The bill doesn’t take effect for another 30 days, but that will still allow enough time for operators to return in time for the kickoff of the new NFL season.

Meanwhile, Delaware’s real-money online gambling operators had a truly sucky June, as their combined casino and poker operations brought in a paltry $202k, down one-third from the same month last year.

The June swoon was in full effect at the state’s poker sites, which reported revenue of just $18k, less than half the sum reported in June 2016. Online table games fared only slightly better, falling to $39.5k from $82.7k, while video lottery revenue fell a comparatively modest 22% to $144.5k. Now, let us never speak of this again.