No Southern Hospitality for Daily Fantasy Sports in Mississippi
The Mississippi AG issued an opinion last week declaring: “Fantasy sports wagering is illegal in the state of Mississippi under current law both on a licensed gaming floor and outside of a licensed gaming floor. Any change to the law would be a matter within the purview of the Legislature.” With respect to the skill component of DFS, the AG said it is not relevant under Mississippi law.
With respect to activity on a licensed gaming floor, the AG cited a portion of Miss. law that states, “No wagering shall be allowed on the outcome of any athletic event, nor on any matter to be determined during an athletic event, nor on the outcome of any event, which does not take place on the premises, ” and concluded that “a fantasy sports wager is controlled by matters that are determined during an athletic event, and by an event which does not take place on the premises. Specifically, the statistical performance of athletes is determined during an athletic event or events.”
For fantasy off a licensed gaming floor, the AG cites Miss. Code Section 97-33-1, which states: it is a crime if, “any person shall encourage, promote or play at any game, play or amusement, other than a fight or fighting match between dogs, for money or other valuable thing, or shall wager or bet, promote or encourage the wagering or betting of any money or other valuable things, upon any game, play, amusement, cockfight, Indian ball play or duel, other than a fight or fighting match between dogs, or upon the result of any election, event or contingency whatever…”
Based on this the AG concluded that when a fantasy player picks a team, it is an illegal wager analogous to a parlay bet (i.e., a wager on 3 or more outcomes of sporting events).
As to the element of skill, the AG dismissed the argument, noting that the relevant legal test (citied above), refers to “any game…” which does not depend on a determination of skill or chance.
Finally, the AG concluded that daily fantasy games offered via electronic device, are illegal gambling games citing Miss. Code Section 75-76-5(k), which defines a gambling game as “any banking or percentage game played with cards, with dice or with any mechanical, electromechanical or electronic device or machine for money, property, checks, credit or any representative of value.”