Tennessee’s attorney general has ruled fantasy sports constitute illegal gambling, The Tennessean reports.
The opinion pertains to all fantasy sports, not just the legally-controversial daily fantasy games. It also operates under the premise that all fantasy leagues involve money and winnings of some sort. Although many leagues do, major fantasy host sites ESPN and Yahoo both widely offer free-to-play games as well.
From The Tennessean:
Tennessee law essentially says any action where someone risks something of value, and that risk is based on a degree of chance, constitutes gambling, [attorney general Herbert] Slatery writes.
“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,” Slatery writes.
“Thus, absent legislation specifically exempting fantasy sports contests from the definition of 'gambling,' these contests constitute illegal gambling under Tennessee law.”
Popular daily fantasy sites FanDuel and DraftKings released statements on the matter, referencing legislation in the works that would help protect games by changing state laws with regard to illegal gambling.
“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,” FanDuel’s statement reads. “We hope members of the legislature will listen to them, and act quickly to modernize state law and bring full clarity to the issue.”
“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,” reads DraftKings’s statement.