Mississippi Legislature Sends DFS Bill To The Governor's Desk
Legal Sports Report

Lightning Strikes Twice For Fantasy Sports In One Day: Mississippi Passes Bill

Mississippi passes daily fantasy sports bill

The daily fantasy sports industry had one of its best days ever legislatively, as Mississippi joined Tennessee in moving a bill legalizing and regulating DFS on to the governor on Tuesday.

Mississippi, like Tennessee, also had an opinion of DFS as violating state gambling law in play; turning a bill into law would presumably render that opinion moot.

DraftKings and FanDuel — along with other DFS operators — had pulled out of the state in February, after the opinion from AG Jim Hood had been issued.

What happened with Mississippi’s DFS bill

Things recently looked very much up in the air for DFS legislation, after the House and Senate passed very different bills regarding DFS. While the Senate had passed a regulatory bill, the House gutted that bill, and turned it into a bill authorizing a lottery in the state.

That resulted in a conference committee being created, with three members from both the House and Senate meeting to come up with an agreement on the bill.

That group of six came up with a new DFS regulatory framework that they then handed back to the House and Senate for votes. The lottery plan, which was controversial, was ditched.

The bill will allow DFS operators to take users in the state under prescribed regulations until July of next year; during that time, a task force will study the DFS industry and address further regulations.

On Tuesday, the House approved the new bill 93-24; later in the day, the Senate passed the bill.

What does the bill do?

The bill, as it passed the legislature, is quite different from most bills in play around the country.

First of all, the bill, if it becomes law, would repeal itself in July 1 of next year, by which time the state may act to put in place more robust regulation.

The bill sets up the  Fantasy Contest Task Force, which would “undertake a comprehensive review of the offering of fantasy contests with a fee within this state and to recommend the proper oversight and regulation of the offering of fantasy contests with a fee.”

Until new legislation is passed in the state, the bill would implement basic consumer protections, such as:

  • Preventing DFS operator employees and immediate family from playing in contests.
  • Providing for the security of data that could affect gameplay.
  • Setting a minimum age for play of 18.
  • Allow players to exclude themselves from playing, if they desire.
  • Segregate player funds from operational funds.

Sites wishing to operate in the state must register with the state. There would be no licensing fee to operate in the state, for now. Violations of the act are subject to $10,000 fines.

If new legislation is not passed before July of next year, DFS would presumably become illegal in the state again.

What now for the DFS bill?

The bill heads to the desk of Gov. Phil Bryant.

Mississippi follows the trend of the three other statehouses that have also passed DFS bills: The legislation has passed by huge majorities.

Bryant can sign or veto the bill. Given the margins by which the bill passed, a veto — which could be overridden by a two-thirds majority of the legislature — seems unlikely. Bryant also has line-item veto power, if he takes issue with any of the fiscal initiatives in the bill.

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Dustin Gouker
- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner.