Tennessee attorney general: Fantasy sports ‘constitute illegal gambling’

Tennessee attorney general Herbert Slatery released an opinion Wednesday stating that he believes all fantasy sports constitute gambling under state law.
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Tennessee attorney general Herbert Slatery released an opinion Wednesday stating that he believes all fantasy sports constitute gambling under state law.

The three-page opinion addresses fantasy sports contests in general, including daily fantasy games and leagues that take place over longer periods of time.

Slatery’s opinion is based on the idea that most fantasy players pay some sort of entry fee to play in fantasy sports leagues that are hosted on the internet. 

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Under the idea that most fantasy players risk something of value in order to win a prize, fantasy sports are legally defined as gambling in Tennessee. 

“The participants pay an entry fee in order to win a prize. A portion of the fees comprise the pot of funds that are paid out to the winning participants. By proffering these entry fees, participants agree to risk something of value for a profit – a portion of the pot. Hence, the only remaining consideration is whether a participant’s ability to win a fantasy sports contest is to “any degree contingent on chance.” 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’ performance are affected by many fortuitous factors – weather, facilities, referees, injuries, etc.”

Attorney general opinions are not laws, but can be cited in the creation of laws in the future. 

The legality of daily fantasy sports games, like those hosted by DraftKings and FanDuel, has been the subject of scrutiny by states around the country. New York recently ordered the two operations stop offering fantasy games in the state.