Daily fantasy sports state-by-state tracker

With upwards of 75 lobbyists already working in more than 30 states, the efforts by leading daily fantasy sports (DFS) operators -- most notably DraftKings and FanDuel -- to clarify the legal status of their game have resulted in some preliminary successes across the country.

According to the Wall Street Journal and Legal Sports Report, about 20 states already have pending legislation that would largely permit fantasy sports of the daily variety. Most of the proposed laws emphasize consumer protection and are viewed favorably by DFS operators. Also, in February, the Rhode Island Attorney General deemed DFS contests likely legal under state law.

The setbacks have been headline-grabbing, however.

Since October 2015, several states have labeled DFS as a form of illegal gambling. But the way in which each state moved forward afterwards reveals how fractured the landscape can be when archaic laws enacted as far back as a century ago are put face-to-face with innovative, tech-driven fantasy contests of today.

A state-by-state march toward legal acceptance will likely be long and bumpy. Fantasy Sports Trade Association president Paul Charchian estimated that it would be a multi-year process.

"We're going to battle and we're going to win," Charchian said in his remarks at the January 2016 FSTA conference in Dallas. "We need to formally legalize fantasy play in 50 states."

Chalk provides a bite-sized summary of the current status of DFS in all 50 states, with updates to follow as news warrants.

Allowed states (6)

Indiana

On March 24, 2016, Governor Mike Pence signed into law legislation explicitly permitting certain kinds of daily fantasy contests. The effective date of the law is July 1, 2016. Under the jurisdiction of the state's gaming commission, DFS contests are specifically recognized as a game of skill. However, all fantasy participants must be at least 18 years of age. In addition, DFS contests based on college or high school sports are prohibited.

Kansas

On April 24, 2015, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt released a six-page memo generally favorable to fantasy sports play, although the memo does not touch on DFS specifically. "If fantasy sports leagues fall within the definition provided in [the law], then fantasy sports leagues are games of skill and therefore are not lotteries," the memo concluded. "Under federal law, Congress has determined that fantasy sports leagues are games of skill." The Kansas legislature does not appear to be considering a DFS bill.

Maryland

Maryland is one of the few states to already address fantasy sports. "Maryland law specifically exempts fantasy sports contests from its gambling laws," noted a 2014 legal opinion letter sent to FanDuel. Indeed, the Maryland legislature passed a fantasy-friendly law in 2012. The Maryland attorney general recently questioned whether the 2012 law extended to DFS and has asked the legislature to provide clarity on this point. A new DFS-specific law is being considered by lawmakers now.

Massachusetts

DFS has garnered a lot of attention in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. "I think anybody looking at this acknowledges it's a form of gambling," Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said in widely reported November 2015 comments. "Just because it's gambling doesn't make it illegal." Indeed, AG Healey put into place multi-faceted final regulations on March 25, 2016. Among other things, the regulations ban players under the age of 21, mandate player funds be segregated from operating funds and require sites to offer beginner-only games. In addition, no fantasy contests can be based on athlete performances in college or high school sports. DFS operators must comply with the regulations as of July 1, 2016..

Rhode Island

Daily fantasy was given a stamp of approval in early 2016. "It is the opinion of this office that daily fantasy sports may currently operate legally," Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin wrote in a Feb. 4, 2016, letter to Governor Gina Raimondo. "Applying the 'dominant factor' standard, I do not believe that daily fantasy sports constitute a 'game of chance.'" A legislative bill pertaining to DFS has been introduced in the state, a move that was recommended by AG Kilmartin.

Virginia

Governor Terry McAuliffe signed the "Fantasy Contests Act" into law on March 7, 2016. The new law legalizes pay-to-play DFS in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Operators must pay a licensing fee and are subject to other regulations.

Recently contested states (11)

Alabama

In an April 5, 2016 press release, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange said "paid daily fantasy sports contests are in fact illegal gambling under Alabama law." AG Strange's press also said that letters sent to DraftKings and FanDuel instructed both companies to cease offering paid contests in the state no later than May 1, 2016. A legislative bill that would legalize DFS remains active in Alabama.

Georgia

"[D]aily fantasy sports games are not authorized under Georgia law," wrote two lawyers from the office of Georgia attorney general Samuel S. Olens in a four-page letter dated Feb. 26, 2016. The letter follows a Sept. 23, 2015, letter from the Georgia Lottery to top executives at FanDuel and DraftKings to "inquire about the legal authority for FanDuel and DraftKings to independently operate fantasy sports games within the state of Georgia." DFS-related legislation was introduced, but has stalled.

Hawaii

In January, Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin concluded that DFS contests constitute illegal gambling under state law. A follow-up letter from a Honolulu prosecuting attorney instructed leading DFS providers to cease operating in the state. A legislative bill pertaining to DFS has been introduced.

Illinois

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan concluded that pay-to-play daily fantasy is illegal under state law. "It is my opinion that the daily fantasy sports contests offered by FanDuel and DraftKings clearly constitute gambling," AG Madigan wrote in a Dec. 23, 2015, memo. Litigation involving FanDuel and DraftKings remains ongoing, with both companies continuing to operate in the state. At the same time, Illinois lawmakers are considering DFS legislation.

Mississippi

"Fantasy sports wagering is illegal in the state of Mississippi under current law," Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood wrote in a January 2016 decision. Since the ruling, AG Hood has not moved to enforce the ruling via litigation or otherwise. A legislative bill pertaining to DFS has been introduced in the state.

Nevada

In October 2015, the Nevada attorney general deemed DFS to constitute gambling. In a detailed 17-page decision, the office of the attorney general concluded that "daily fantasy sports cannot be offered in Nevada without licensure." All daily fantasy providers vacated the state soon thereafter. To date, no leading DFS company has applied for and been granted a gaming license in Nevada. The Nevada Gaming Policy Committee is currently evaluating current and future options for DFS in the state.

New York

More so than other states, DFS has garnered headlines in New York as a result of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's cease-and-desist order directed at DraftKings and FanDuel and the litigation that followed. On Dec. 11 , 2015, AG Schneiderman received a favorable ruling from Supreme Court Judge Manuel J. Mendez. However, hours later, Judge Mendez's order was suspended via a "stay" from an appellate court.

Both FanDuel and DraftKings remained in operation in New York until March 22, 2016, when both entered into settlement agreements requiring them to cease offering cash-based contests. The settlement agreements also suspend parts of the ongoing lawsuit. Multiple legislative bills pertaining to DFS have been introduced in the state. If one of the bills is passed into law during the current legislative session, the underlying lawsuit may be moot.

South Dakota

Daily fantasy sports have the attention of Attorney General Marty Jackley. "Based upon the current state of uncertainty, including the ongoing debate on whether daily fantasy sports wagering is predominately a permissive game of skill or an unlawful game of chance, it will not be my intent to seek felony indictments here in South Dakota absent a clear directive from our state legislature," AG Jackley wrote in a December 2015 statement. DFS is not currently being considered by the South Dakota legislature.

Tennessee

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III issued a three page decision dated April 5, 2016 that concluded: "...absent legislation specifically exempting fantasy sports contests from the definition of 'gambling,' these contests constitute illegal gambling under Tennessee law." A legislative bill pertaining to DFS has been introduced in the state.

Texas

"Because the outcomes of games in daily fantasy sports leagues depends partially on chance, an individual's payment of a fee to participate in such activities is a bet," Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton wrote in a nine-page Jan. 19, 2016, decision. "Accordingly, a court would likely determine that participation in daily fantasy sports is illegal gambling." In early March, FanDuel reached a settlement agreement with AG Paxton and will exit the state in May of 2016. DraftKings filed a lawsuit against AG Paxton on March 4 and continues to operate in the Lone Star State. There is no legislative activity pertaining to DFS in the state.

Vermont

In a widely reported January decision, the Vermont attorney general concluded that daily fantasy games constitute illegal gambling under state law. A legislative bill that would legalize DFS has been introduced in the state.

Historically banned states (5)

Arizona

Arizona is one of five states where cash-based DFS play has long been considered banned. A prior attorney general opinion found fantasy football to be considered gambling. In November 2015, the Boston Globe reported that Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich sent letters to DraftKings and FanDuel asking about the status of player accounts in the state. A legislative bill to legalize DFS is pending.

Iowa

The state bans play in games "for any sum of money." However, a DFS-related legislative bill is pending before the Iowa legislature.

Louisiana

In 1991, then-Attorney General William J. Guste, Jr. concluded that a 1-900 number fantasy football contest constituted illegal gambling, but nothing in the 1991 memo touched on DFS-specific issues. The Louisiana legislature is not considering a DFS bill during the current session.

Montana

Under state law, Internet-based fantasy sports leagues are illegal. Montana is not currently considering any amendment to its law. The Montana Lottery offers fantasy football and racing contests.

Washington

In 2011, the Washington State Gambling Commission pursued criminal charges against a state resident who offered NASCAR-themed fantasy contests. However, state lawmakers held hearings in January 2016 to debate a proposed law that would define certain daily fantasy contests as games of skill and remove them from the state's overall ban on cash-based fantasy games over the Internet. Other DFS bills have been introduced, too.

Legislation pending (15)

California

The California legislature is currently considering a DFS bill that passed an initial vote by a wide margin. Attorney General Kamala Harris may release an opinion on DFS's legality at some point in 2016. According to a legal opinion letter released in the New York litigation, gambling in California requires a "bet or wager."

Connecticut

According to a legal opinion letter released in the New York litigation, Connecticut follows a "predominance test" where the relative levels of skill and chance are measured to determine if the contest is permissible. A DFS legislative bill is pending.

Florida

DFS-friendly legislation has been introduced in the Florida Legislature and passed overwhelmingly during a preliminary vote. The bill has since stalled. In 1991, former Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth concluded that certain forms of season-long fantasy sports would likely be illegal under Florida law. Current Florida AG Pam Bondi has reportedly deferred on the issue while federal prosecutors in the Tampa area appear to be undertaking a probe.

Kentucky

According to a legal opinion letter released in the New York litigation, Kentucky follows a "predominance test" in which the relative levels of skill and chance are measured to determine if the contest is permissible. A DFS legislative bill was recently introduced.

Michigan

In September 2015, a member of the Michigan Gaming Control Board questioned the legality of DFS contests, but no formal decision was ever released. According to a legal opinion letter released in the New York litigation, gambling in Michigan requires a "bet or wager." A legislative bill pertaining to DFS has been introduced in the state.

Minnesota

According to a legal opinion letter released in the New York litigation, Minnesota follows a "predominance test" in which the relative levels of skill and chance are measured to determine if the contest is permissible. DFS legislation is pending in the state.

Missouri

According to a 2014 legal opinion letter released in the New York litigation, Missouri follows a "material factor" test. "This is a lesser standard than the predominance test and effectively makes it more difficult to offer skill-based gaming," wrote the author of a different 2013 legal opinion letter. A legislative bill pertaining to DFS has been introduced in the state.

Nebraska

According to a legal opinion letter released in the New York litigation, Nebraska follows a "predominance test" in which the relative levels of skill and chance are measured to determine if the contest is permissible. A legislative bill pertaining to DFS has been introduced in the state.

New Jersey

According to a legal opinion letter released in the New York litigation, gambling in New Jersey requires a "bet or wager." Fantasy-related issues have sporadically appeared in the long-running litigation over legalized sports betting between Governor Chris Christie and the five major American sports leagues -- NCAA, NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB. A legislative bill pertaining to DFS has been introduced in the state.

New Mexico

According to a legal opinion letter released in the New York litigation, New Mexico follows a "predominance test" in which the relative levels of skill and chance are measured to determine if the contest is permissible. A legislative bill pertaining to DFS has been introduced in the state.

Oklahoma

Wagering on games of chance is banned in Oklahoma. In 1999, according to a court filing in the New York litigation, the Oklahoma attorney general probed a private "money hunt" contest among dog owners competing for cash based on their dog's ability to track prey. The Oklahoma AG concluded that such cash-based contests qualified as a bet under state law. A legislative bill pertaining to DFS has been introduced in the state.

Pennsylvania

According to a legal opinion letter released in the New York litigation, Pennsylvania follows a "predominance test" in which the relative levels of skill and chance are measured to determine if the contest is permissible. A legislative bill pertaining to DFS has been introduced in the state.

South Carolina

According to a court document released in the New York litigation, South Carolina's definition of gambling "includes betting money on the outcome of any 'game,' regardless of the skill involved in the game." As such, daily fantasy's legality in South Carolina was described as "qualified." A legislative bill to legalize daily fantasy has been introduced.

West Virginia

According to a legal opinion letter released in the New York litigation, West Virginia follows a "predominance test" in which the relative levels of skill and chance are measured to determine if the contest is permissible. A DFS legislative bill is pending in the state.

Wisconsin

According to a legal opinion letter released in the New York litigation, Wisconsin follows a "predominance test" in which the relative levels of skill and chance are measured to determine if the contest is permissible. A legislative bill pertaining to DFS has been introduced that would serve to specifically legalize daily fantasy in the state.

No current legislation (13)

Alaska

According to a 2014 legal opinion letter released in the New York litigation, Alaska follows a "material factor" test. "This is a lesser standard than the predominance test and effectively makes it more difficult to offer skill-based gaming," wrote the author of a different 2013 legal opinion letter. In 2001, the Alaska attorney general decided that a pay-to-play golf video game constituted illegal gambling. No current DFS legislation is pending in Alaska.

Arkansas

There is no public evidence of any government inquiry in Arkansas. However, state law generally bars "bet[ting] any money or any valuable thing on any game of hazard or skill," according to a 2014 opinion letter disclosed in the New York litigation. No DFS-related legislative bill appears pending.

Colorado

According to a filing released in the New York litigation citing a "lack of clarity in Colorado law" as it applies to DFS, the status of daily fantasy's legality in Colorado is "qualified." The Colorado attorney general has yet to weigh in on DFS, and no legislative bills appear to be pending. A 2009 legal case pertaining to poker considered the level of chance that would make an activity illegal gambling.

Delaware

According to a legal opinion letter released in the New York litigation, Delaware follows a "predominance test" in which the relative levels of skill and chance are measured to determine if the contest is permissible. No DFS legislative bill appears pending.

Idaho

According to a legal opinion letter released in the New York litigation, Idaho follows a "predominance test" in which the relative levels of skill and chance are measured to determine if the contest is permissible. According to the same document, gambling in Idaho also requires a "bet or wager." No legislative bill appears pending.

Maine

According to a legal opinion letter released in the New York litigation, gambling in Maine requires a "bet or wager." No legislative bill about fantasy sports appears pending.

New Hampshire

According to a legal opinion letter released in the New York litigation, New Hampshire follows a "predominance test" in which the relative levels of skill and chance are measured to determine if the contest is permissible. No DFS legislative bill appears pending.

North Carolina

According to a legal opinion letter released in the New York litigation, North Carolina follows a "predominance test" in which the relative levels of skill and chance are measured to determine if the contest is permissible. No DFS-related legislative bill appears pending.

North Dakota

In a widely reported 2015 statement, North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said, "If [DFS is] a game of chance, it's not likely legal, and if it's a game of skill, then it would likely be legal." AG Stehehjem has not made any formal ruling on fantasy sports. However, in 1994, then-Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp concluded that a certain fantasy football contest may constitute an impermissible "sports pool" and, in turn, be considered illegal gambling. The 1994 opinion letter did not discuss DFS in its current form. Daily fantasy advertisements were recently removed from certain University of North Dakota athletic facilities. No DFS-related legislation is pending in the state.

Ohio

According to a legal opinion letter released in the New York litigation, Ohio follows a "predominance test" in which the relative levels of skill and chance are measured to determine if the contest is permissible. No DFS legislative bill appears pending.

Oregon

According to a 2014 legal opinion letter released in the New York litigation, Oregon follows a "material factor" test. "This is a lesser standard than the predominance test and effectively makes it more difficult to offer skill-based gaming," wrote the author of a different 2013 legal opinion letter. No legislative bill pertaining to DFS is under consideration.

Utah

According to a legal opinion letter released in the New York litigation, Utah -- a state with perhaps the strictest gambling laws in the nation -- follows a "predominance test" in which the relative levels of skill and chance are measured to determine if the contest is permissible. No DFS legislative bill appears pending.

Wyoming

According to a legal opinion letter released in the New York litigation, Wyoming follows a "predominance test" in which the relative levels of skill and chance are measured to determine if the contest is permissible. No fantasy-related legislative bill appears pending.