New Jersey Legislature Votes to Legalize Daily Fantasy Sports

Posted on: July 3, 2017, 12:00h. 

Last updated on: July 3, 2017, 10:29h.

On Friday, the New Jersey Senate passed a bill to legalize and regulate daily fantasy sports by a 29-6 vote.

Chris Christie New Jersey
New Jersey stands on the brink of regulating DFS but will Chris Christie sign on the dotted line? (Image: Business Insider)

The bill will now pass to the desk of Governor Chris Christie, who, having spent the weekend relaxing on the beach, is required to sign it into law or veto it.

Christie’s intentions on this one are as yet unclear, but his only public utterance on DFS, in October 2015, was dismissive.

“Are we really talking about getting the government involved in fantasy football?” he asked incredulously. “Wait a second. We have $19 trillion in debt, we have people out of work, we have ISIS and al Qaeda attacking us, and we’re talking about fantasy football? Can we stop?”

“Enough on fantasy football,” Christie added. “Let the people play. Who cares?”

Projections Realistic 

Besides, as State Senator James Whelan emphasized on Friday, this is a realistic bill that is all about consumer protections. The state is under no illusions that regulation will be a big money-spinner, as some others that have opted to regulate the games have fancifully suggested.

“It’s a consumer protection measure as opposed to something we’re looking to make a ton of money off of,” said Whelan, a former Mayor of Atlantic City. “Hopefully the governor will sign this and we’ll be able to keep daily fantasy sports going in New Jersey. That was always the goal.”

The bill would require operators to pay a 10.5 percent tax on of all revenues generated from players within New Jersey, which would generate around $6.6 million per year, it is estimated.

Sports Betting Priority

Christie has championed the state’s fight for the right to authorize sports betting at its casinos and racetracks and, in the light of the news that the Supreme Court will hear its appeal on the issue, is unlikely to do anything that might jeopardize the case.

In fact, until this year, the legislature had been unwilling to move on DFS for the same reason. But things changed in 2016, when a dozen or so states passed laws to regulate the contests, including New York, making the move far less controversial.

The bill would classify DFS as a non-gambling game of skill, which means that oversight would not fall within the remit of the Division of Gaming Enforcement. The contents would be regulated instead by the Department of Law and Public Safety.