After a very hectic 2015, the industry has seen relative calm so far in 2016. Players can still play daily fantasy sports at most sites and a few states have even legalized the games. So how much does your location affect where you can play? From what states are you allowed to play daily fantasy sports?
When Does a DFS Site Restrict Play From a State?
For the most part, if one site restricts play from a state, they all do. It’s likely that the two largest sites — DraftKings and FanDuel — have set the tone while the smaller sites follow their lead. But there are some exceptions.
Since there are only a few states that have legalized DFS, one might wonder how players can continue to play DFS. The answer is a complicated one but essentially lies in the UIGEA carve-out of fantasy sports. This bill, which pulled the heart out of online poker and other forms of online gambling, also made fantasy sports legal. The consensus has traditionally been that daily fantasy sports by proxy was also covered that legislation. However, because daily fantasy sports wasn’t even conceived, this has been been a hot topic of debate over the last couple years.
Regardless of whether DFS is covered under the UIGEA, it’s become abundantly clear that the industry feels the best protection and sustainability is to be legalized in each state.
A DFS site each has its own reasons for accepting or restricting players in a given state. Generally speaking, states are allowed on sites where there is no law on the books that would threaten DFS (in the opinion of the DFS site). More recently, some daily fantasy sports sites have also restricted play after a state’s attorney general has given an opinion that the games are not lawful under the state’s law.
Legalization isn’t necessarily a pathway for all sites to re-enter a state, however. Some of the smaller sites have chosen not to reenter a market once it becomes legal due to high barriers of entry. Virginia is a good example with its $50,000 license fee, which is a non-starter for the smallest sites. The cost to enter legalized markets is one reason why DraftKings and FanDuel recently announced a merger.
Daily Fantasy States By Site
So what states are allowed by the top daily fantasy sports sites and how do they differ?
For now, we will stick to the top 5 sites in the daily fantasy sports: DraftKings, FanDuel, Yahoo, FantasyDraft and FantasyAces. This is where the vast majority of DFS contests are being held today (especially at DraftKings, FanDuel and to a lesser extent, Yahoo and FantasyDraft). This is a good representation of what players can expect to find online.
The following are the states where players are restricted from playing real money contests:
Countries allowed: United States and Canada. Players are restricted from playing from the states of Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, Texas and Washington.
DraftKings accepts players from the United States and Canada. Play is restricted in Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada and Washington.
This is the same list as FanDuel, minus Texas. One question that has been asked of players since the DraftKings and FanDuel merger was announced is whether Texas will be victim or a benefactor of the merger. Texas is obviously a large state and the DraftKings CEO will head the new company.
Only United States players are allowed to play real money contests. Restricted states as of November 2016 includes Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nevada and Washington.
For the most part, Yahoo restricts the same states that DraftKings does with the addition of Florida and Missouri. Like DraftKings, they also accept players from Texas for now.
Accepts players from the United States and Canada. Players are restricted from playing from Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada and Washington.
This is the exact same list of states restricted by DraftKings.
Players from the United are accepted, however, Canadian players are not eligible. FantasyAces restricted states include Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, Mississippi, Hawaii, and Washington
FantasyAces is one of the few DFS sites to restrict Indiana and Mississippi players. But they allow players from Idaho, while most do not.