DFS Legislation Week In Review
It was a busy week with encouraging news, and some setbacks, in the DFS industry’s ongoing state-by-state legal battles.
Here’s the breakdown of what happened, what it means, and what players need to know.
What happened: Tennessee became the third state to pass a bill to its governor that would legalize and regulate DFS contests. Governors in Virginia and Indiana recently signed similar bills, and Tennessee is expected to follow suit, given the overwhelming support it received in the state legislature.
What it means: Great news for DFS. Earlier in April, Tennessee’s attorney general issued an opinion stating all paid-entry fantasy sports constitute illegal gambling in Tennessee. Once the new bill is signed into law, however, that opinion is no longer relevant.
What players need to know: Nearly all operators accept players from Tennessee, and that will likely continue going forward. The governor has 10 business days to sign or veto the bill once it is formally presented. Vetoes can be overridden by a simple majority in the state legislature.
What happened: Just a few hours after Tennessee, Mississippi became the fourth state to send a regulatory bill to the governor.
What it means: This is especially welcome news for players in the Magnolia State, who have been unable to play on most DFS sites for the last two months; DraftKings, FanDuel and many other operators withdrew from the state following a negative opinion from the attorney general in February.
What players need to know: The bill is expected to be signed into law soon; until then, Yahoo remains one of the few operators accepting players in Mississippi.
What happened: A committee in the state house approved a bill on a 9-4 vote Wednesday that would make DFS legal in the state. It now moves on to the full chamber for consideration, which could happen any time.
What it means: It’s a solid step forward for DFS in a pivotal state. Victories in smaller states are nice, and a welcome indicator of positive momentum, but keeping DFS contests available Illinois is crucial. It’s the industry’s third-largest market, behind New York and California, so it’s vital that a bill gets passed as soon as possible. The state and the industry have been at odds since December, when the attorney general declared DFS to be illegal gambling. DraftKings and FanDuel countered with lawsuits and continue to operate in the state, along with most other operators.
What players need to know: The bill would ban players under 21 years old; other regulations are similar to those that have been introduced elsewhere, with a limit on the number of entries per player based on the size of the field, and deposit limitations that can be appealed.
What happened: A bill that would’ve legalized DFS in Iowa was declared dead on Tuesday after the state’s governor declined to back the legislation.
What it means: Obviously, this is another setback in Iowa, a state almost all operators have long avoided due to an inhospitable legal climate.
What players need to know: It’s back to the drawing board for the Iowa legislators trying to get a measure legalizing real-money fantasy sports approved. This is second straight year in which a bill has failed, but William Dotzler, the state senator who was guiding this year’s effort says to expect similar legislation next year.
What happened: A bill to regulate DFS passed its second committee vote in the state House on Wednesday.
What it means: The process in Colorado is still in its early stages. The bill must pass another committee vote before reaching the floor of the House.
What players need to know: The bill sets the legal age of participation at 18 in the state. Check back for updates; we’re hearing the bill could be advancing through its next committee soon.
What happened: State Attorney General George Jepsen issued an option that DFS legislation could “jeopardize the state’s revenue-sharing arrangements” with the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot Tribes, which operate casinos in the state. Senate President Martin Looney responded by saying that legislation is unlikely to pass this session.
What it means: Regulatory legislation in the state is likely dead for now. The Tribes hand over 25 percent of revenue from slots ($263 million in 2015), so the state isn’t going to want to do anything to jeopardize that.
What players need to know: No immediate need for concern. The AG’s opinion didn’t directly address the issue of DFS legality in the state, so most operators should continue to accept customers there for the foreseeable future.