In a somewhat surprising move, the 2016 Mississippi Legislature approved a bill legalizing daily fantasy sports in the state. On May 12, 2016, Governor Phil Bryant signed the legislation with the bill becoming law effective from and after its passage. Click here for the legislation as adopted.

The legislation was introduced after Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood’s office on January 29, 2016, opined that DFS were illegal in Mississippi.

Prospects looked somewhat dicey for the bill when the Mississippi House and Senate adopted different versions of the legislation. The House of Representatives added a lottery amendment to the bill, making its adoption more perilous. Once the bill reached conference between the two houses, a compromise bill emerged (without a lottery) which was successfully adopted and sent to the Governor.

As approved, the bill permits daily fantasy sports companies to operate in the state until July 1, 2017, when the law stands repealed. Presumably, this deadline and the creation of a task force to study the issue is to give the operators a chance to continue in the state but allow legislators time to craft a more complete regulatory scheme. The task force is to “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.”

DFS operators must register with the Mississippi Gaming Commission. The bill prevents DFS operator employees and immediate family members from playing DFS; provides for the security of gaming; prohibits play by those under the age of 18; provides a mechanism for players such as problem gamblers to be excluded from playing; and requires clear separation of player moneys from operator moneys and maintain reserves. An audit of funds is also required. Only casino licensees of the MGC may offer “on premises” fantasy contests on their properties. Violators of the act can be fined up to $10,000.

Although the bill provides that the Mississippi Gaming Control Act does not apply to DFS, the patron dispute procedures of the gaming act do apply to disputes between players and DFS operators.