Mississippi Attorney General says daily fantasy sports is illegal under state law

mississippi-attorney-general-daily-fantasy-sportsMississippi’s attorney general has become the latest to declare daily fantasy sports to be illegal under state law.

On Friday, Mississippi AG Jim Hood (pictured) released an opinion in response to a request by Allen Godfrey, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, who sought clarity on the legality of DFS.

In the opinion, first spotted by gaming attorney Daniel Wallach (@WALLACHLEGAL) Hood states plainly that “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.”

Hood notes that Mississippi law prohibits wagering 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.”

Hood rubbishes the traditional DFS ‘skill game’ argument, calling it “irrelevant” because Miss. Code Section 97-33-1 prohibits wagering “upon any game, play amusement … or upon the result of any event or contingency whatever.”

Hood says it is “beyond reasonable dispute that daily fantasy leagues involve an element of chance regarding how a selected player will perform on game day.” Hood cites court case precedent for the illegality of electronic games that aren’t “under the absolute control of the player from start to finish.”

DFS operators take a percentage of their contests’ entry fees, and Hood believes this violates Miss. Code Section 75-76-55, which prohibits “banking or percentage game played with cards, with dice or with any mechanical, electromechanical or electronic device or machine” for something of value.

Hood notes that state and federal courts have determined that Mississippi’s gambling laws are to be construed liberally, “not liberally in favor of the culprit, but for the suppression of vice.”

Hood’s opinion joins New York, Illinois, Texas, Vermont and Hawaii on the list of state AGs who have declared DFS illegal under their respective state laws. Nevada issued an opinion that DFS was legal gambling but required operators to apply for state gaming licenses, which prompted DFS operators to quit the state immediately.

Hood didn’t indicate any immediate willingness to follow the lead of New York AG Eric Schneiderman in bringing criminal complaints against DFS operators. Hood states that it’s up to legislators to revise the law if they want to see DFS brought in from the legal cold.