FanDuel and DraftKings recently left the state of Mississippi, bringing the number of states the two daily fantasy sports operators serve down to 42.
Why now for Mississippi?
The attorney general for the state, Jim Hood, issued an opinion about three weeks ago that DFS was illegal gambling in the state. However few, if any, DFS operators left the state in the immediate aftermath of that opinion.
It’s unclear what, if anything, changed to lead DraftKings and FanDuel to stop serving the state. After all, they have continued to operate in other states where DFS received similar negative opinions were issued by AGs, such as New York, Illinois and Texas.
FanDuel, DraftKings and the vast majority of operators have exited Nevada and Hawaii in the wake of negative AG opinions in the past, however.
FanDuel, DraftKings statements on Mississippi
FanDuel offered the following statement:
“We strongly disagree with the Mississippi Attorney General’s recent opinion letter, which reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of fantasy sports. We firmly believe our contests have always been operated lawfully in Mississippi. But the opinion has now created uncertainty about the law in Mississippi, and as such we are voluntarily suspending play in the state for the time being. We will focus our efforts on the state legislature in Mississippi because, as in states across the country, that is where the long-term future of fantasy sports will be decided.
More than 20 states, including Mississippi, are advancing legislation to modernize laws to catch up with the evolution of fantasy sports and install needed consumer protection regulations. In the last two weeks alone, such bills have passed the California Assembly, the Indiana Senate and the Virginia Senate and General Assembly — and we’ve seen movement in other legislatures across the country. We look forward to working with Senator Tindell and the members of the Mississippi legislature, and hope our players will be able to resume play in the state soon.”
Griffin Finan, head of public affairs at DraftKings, offered this statement:
“The unanimous passage of this bill out of committee is exciting news and confirms what experts, fans, and many policymakers are saying in state after state: that fantasy sports are games of skill. We are grateful to Senator Tindell for his tireless support and are looking forward to further engagement with Mississippi legislators to ensure that our loyal fans in the state can continue to enjoy the games they love.
As the legislative process plays out, we will voluntarily pause operations in the state and look forward to resuming offering daily fantasy sports to our fans in Mississippi.”
The legislative effort
A bill to legalize and regulate DFS — SB 2541 — cropped up just last week. The DFS legislation passed its first committee vote on Thursday.
It’s unknown if the proximity of the introduction of a legislative effort and the operators’ exit from the state are related.