Tennessee second state in as many days to call daily fantasy sports illegal gambling

tennessee-daily-fantasy-sports-illegal-attorney-generalTennessee has become the second US state in as many days to declare that daily fantasy sports is illegal gambling.

On Wednesday, the office of Tennessee attorney general Herbert Slatery (pictured) issued an opinion stating that DFS was illegal gambling under state law. Slatery’s opinion came just one day after his counterpart across the border in Alabama came to the same conclusion.

Slatery’s opinion notes that gambling is “broadly defined under Tennessee law,” encompassing any activity in which players risk “anything of value for a profit whose return is to any degree contingent on chance.”

Slatery notes that this definition is “straightforward and unequivocal,” with the only exceptions being a “lawful business transaction,” a state lottery and annual events run by non-profit organizations that have been approved by the state legislature.

Much like his Alabama counterpart, Slatery’s opinion notes that while DFS participants “may use skill to select players for their teams, winning a fantasy sports contest is contingent to some degree on chance,” in that participants “do not control how selected athletes perform in actuality on a given day.”

However, unlike Alabama, Tennessee’s opinion extends beyond DFS to include all fantasy sports contests that require an entry fee. Also unlike Alabama, Slatery has so far yet to issue cease and desist orders to DFS operators, saying the General Assembly has the option to add fantasy contests to the state’s list of gambling exemptions.

Tennessee is the ninth US state to declare DFS to be illegal gambling since the industry’s ‘data leak’ scandal broke last fall (10 if you count Nevada, which said DFS operators could only operate if they got gambling licenses). One of those states, Illinois, has been trying to pass legislation that would offer DFS a way to operate legally but the bill has hit a stumbling block.

Illinois lawmakers have until Friday to pass bills out of committee in order to be considered in the current legislative session. A House Judiciary Committee vote was expected Wednesday on DFS legislation authored by Rep. Michael Zalewski, but the bill is still being amended and Zalewski has asked for an extension to consider the bill at a future date.

Illinois has been unsuccessfully wrestling with various gambling expansion plans for years now and the legislature is currently mired in a prolonged standoff over the state’s budget, all of which has made passing legislation an even more uphill struggle than usual. Speaking Tuesday at the iGaming North America 2016 conference, Zalewski suggested the odds were stacked against passing his DFS bill in the current climate.