Another state attorney general has weighed in on the subject of daily fantasy sports. This time, it’s from Tennessee and it’s not good. In a new opinion on the increasingly popular games, Attorney General Herbert Slatery on Wednesday stated that the games constituted “illegal gambling” in the state.
At the time of this writing, neither site has stated that they will leave Alabama or Tennessee, but they have both issued statements encouraging residents to let their voices be heard regarding pending regulation. The opinion does not change the legality of daily fantasy sports elsewhere in the United States.
Season Long Contests Also Targeted
To add insult to injury for fans of fantasy sports in Tennessee, the opinion states that ALL fantasy sports are considered illegal under Tennessee law. This not only includes Tennessee daily fantasy sports at sites like DraftKings and FanDuel but also popular real money season-long contests enjoyed by tens of millions offered by sites such as Yahoo and ESPN.
Some states have come out against DFS but relatively few have touched traditional fantasy sports, which have been a staple of American sports fans enjoyment of the games for decades.
Tennessee Comments on the Matter
In defended the decision, Slatery said that the games rely on an element of chance. Because of this classification, legislation would need to pass in Tennessee specifically approving daily fantasy sports, according to Slatery.
“While participants may use skill to select players for their teams, winning a fantasy sports contest is contingent to some degree on chance. Namely, the participants do not control how selected athletes perform in actuality on a given day. Athletes’ performances are affected by many fortuitous factors – weather, facilities, referees, injuries, etc.”
The attorney general opinions are not expressly the law of the land but are a yardstick for discussions, as well as policy and changing laws.
Legislation to the Rescue?
Despite Wednesday’s decision, there might be light at the end of the tunnel for players in Tennessee. A DFS-friendly bill has already passed the Tennessee Senate. Time is running out, however, as the legislature is scheduled to adjourn on April 15th.
Statements from DFS Providers
DraftKings and FanDuel were quick to weigh in on the matter after the attorney general’s opinion.
We have been and are in an active dialogue with elected officials to advance thoughtful and appropriate legislation that includes consumer protections to govern our skill-based contests and are encouraged by our progress to date in Tennessee. We call on all of our fans and Tennessee supporters to let their voices be heard in the coming days to show support for this legislation and protect their right to play the games they love.
A bill to protect fantasy sports and install important industry-wide consumer protections has already passed the state senate and legislators will be hearing from constituents from all across the state with a clear message: do not take away a game we love. We hope members of the legislature will listen to them, and act quickly to modernize state law and bring full clarity to the issue.