Mississippi and Tennessee Make Dramatic DFS U-turns

Posted on: April 24, 2016, 09:39h. 

Last updated on: April 25, 2016, 05:12h.

Mississippi AG Jim Hood: DSF bills passed despite his recent ruling
Mississippi AG Jim Hood, who said last month that DFS is gambling and the skill argument is irrelevant. Surprisingly, a DFS bill no sits on the governor’s desk waiting to be signed into law. (Image: hottoddy.com)

Mississippi and Tennessee legislatures passed daily fantasy sports bills to their respective governors this week, both of which are expected to be signed into law, much to the surprise of industry observers.

Surprise is the word because it seemed lately that DFS was on increasingly rocky territory in the South, and the news comes just weeks after Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery had declared the contests to be a violation of state law. Alabama and Texas AGs have made similar noises recently.

So, in February, did Mississippi AG Jim Hood, who added that he “skill” argument propounded by DFS supporters was irrelevant since Mississippi law proscribes any wager “upon any game, play, amusement…or upon the result of any…event or contingency whatever.”

The relative proficiency of players in relation to one another was neither here nor there, he said, the games were gambling, pure and simple.

Taking the Crazy Pills

Of course, both AGs’ statements were no more than legal opinions, which would not prescribe lawmakers from pursuing regulation should they choose to do so. But it did not appear that such a push was on the horizon in either Tennessee or Mississippi.

The Mississippi Senate had, in fact, passed the “Fantasy Contest Act” fairly emphatically in March, but it was completely hijacked in the House and turned into a lottery bill.

As Flushdraw’s Dan Katz noted this week, when the bill reached the House it was as though “everyone was taking crazy pills.”

“The bill was completely re-written, changed to create a ‘Fantasy Contest Gaming Study Committee’ and somehow launch a state lottery. Hell, the lottery amendment was even hand-written,” he wrote, incredulously.

Crazy pills, indeed, which makes the speed in which the bill was turned back into what it was originally supposed to be, before being passed with a large majority, all the more surprising.

Emphatic Majorities 

Likewise, in Tennessee, a state not known for its liberal attitude to gambling (and let’s face it, the AG made it pretty clear that this is exactly what DFS is), the ease with which the bill sailed through the legislature is pretty remarkable. The House voted in favor by 67-17, while the margin was even more overwhelming in the Senate, at 27-2.

With such emphatic majorities, neither governor is likely to veto, and so it looks like Mississippi and Tennessee will become the third and fourth states to regulate, following the lead of Virginia and Indiana earlier in the year.

After a troubling six months, DraftKings and FanDuel must be feeling that the tide is starting to turn. They must also be thinking that if it can happen in Tennessee and Mississippi it can happen anywhere.