Legal Update: Fantasy Sports in Mississippi
It’s “March Madness” in Mississippi. We take this opportunity to report on a new fantasy sports law that recently took effect in the State of Mississippi.
Following up on significant legislative efforts in 2016, the State of Mississippi has now reaffirmed its commitment to the legalization and regulation of paid-entry online fantasy sports. To provide some background, in 2016 Governor Phil Bryant signed Mississippi’s first fantasy-sports law into effect. In enacting this law, Mississippi legalized paid-entry fantasy sports for the first time. The law, however, was intended only to be a preliminary measure, beginning with the establishment of a Fantasy Contest Task Force to oversee the industry and to propose comprehensive guidelines to better regulate it in the future. The 2016 law marked a major victory for the fantasy-sports industry within the State of Mississippi, but the victory was thought to be short-lived, as the law was set to automatically expire in July of 2017.
In February of 2017, however, the Mississippi Legislature effectively extended the 2016 law, easily passing another piece of legislation to legalize and regulate paid-entry fantasy sports in the state. Governor Bryant signed the bill into law in March. Much like the 2016 law, Mississippi’s new law explicitly legalizes paid-entry fantasy sports. Yet, the new 2017 law does more. For example, under the 2017 law, the Mississippi Gaming Commission is now authorized to oversee and regulate the paid-entry fantasy-sports industry. Furthermore, operators within the industry are now subject to a licensing fee of $5,000.00 for every three years of operation in the state, and revenue is now taxed under the new law at a rate of 8%. The 2017 law also contains protections for consumers and participants in online fantasy-sports contests, such as a ban on employee participation, a minimum age of 18 for all participants, and security and oversight parameters with respect to contest data and consumer information.
At this time, the effects and subsequent impact of the new fantasy-sports law in Mississippi remain to be seen. We can report, however, that industry representatives appear to favor the law, which will likely result in an increased presence of online fantasy-sports services within the state.