Bet on it: Mississippi legalizes daily fantasy sports

Steve Wilson
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Posted: May 17, 2016 2:56 PM
Bet on it: Mississippi legalizes daily fantasy sports
Photo illustration by Steve Wilson

FANTASY A GO: Daily fantasy sports leagues will be legal in Mississippi on July 1 after Gov. Phil Bryant signed into a law a bill that would legalize the practice and create a study commission to decide on how to regulate it.

 

Daily fantasy sports leagues will be legal in Mississippi, at least for the next year.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed Senate Bill 2541 into law last week. The new law will legalize daily fantasy sports operators such as Fan Duel and Draft Kings until July 2017, when the move will be reconsidered. The measure would create a task force charged with delivering to the governor by Oct. 15 its recommendations on regulations and fees.

RELATED: Pennsylvania joins states looking to tax and regulate daily fantasy sports

Under the new law, which goes into effect July 1, employees of fantasy sports operators and their immediate families in Mississippi would be prohibited from playing in the daily leagues. Players will have to be 18, operating funds for the daily fantasy sports operator will have to be segregated from player funds and players could exclude themselves at any time.

Phil Bryant

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant

In a daily fantasy sports league, players can draft a new team for daily and multi-day contests in such sports as football, basketball, baseball and golf. Daily fantasy sports differs from standard fantasy leagues, where players draft their teams once per season, set their lineups weekly or daily and can make roster changes or trades.

Both of the top daily fantasy sports operators, Fan Duel and Draft Kings, ceased operations in Mississippi in February after Mississippi attorney general Jim Hood issued an opinion that daily fantasy sports constituted illegal gambling.

Draft Kings and Fan Duel saluted Bryant for signing the bill.

Fan Duel spokesperson Emily Bass said the Legislature took a “deliberate and reasonable approach to legislating fantasy sports” and the company looked forward to working with the task force on regulating the practice.

Draft Kings spokesman Tim Sullivan said the company looked forward to returning to the state and “continuing to work with legislators in Jackson to establish a framework to allow the hundreds of thousands Mississippians who can continue to play the fantasy sports contests they love.”

RELATED: New York lawmakers chide AG for attempt to ban daily fantasy sports

Both FanDuel and Draft Kings have ceased operations in nine states — Alabama, Arizona, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana,  Nevada, New York and Washington — because of opinions issued by each state’s attorney general that classified the practice as illegal gambling.

According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, the practice is growing as 56.8 million players participated in fantasy sports last year in the U.S. That’s up from 12.6 million in 2005.

Contact Steve Wilson at swilson@watchdog.org. Get regular updates on Mississippi through our Facebook or Twitter accounts.