Daily Journal Jackson Bureau
JACKSON – A task force designed to look for ways to regulate and perhaps tax the burgeoning fantasy sports industry in Mississippi hosted its first meeting Thursday with the goal of having a final report completed by Oct. 15.
The task force was developed during the 2016 legislative session to legalize for an interim time fantasy sports in Mississippi while the state develops regulations for the industry.
Senate Judiciary A Chair Sean Tindell, R-Gulfport, the co-chair of the task force, said the goal is to tax the industry as a source of revenue for the state.
“It is not going to be a large amount compared to the big states…, but we want every penny of revenue we can get,” Tindell said after Thursday’s meeting at the state Capitol.
Task force member Griffin Finan of Boston, who works with DraftKings, one of the nation’s largest daily fantasy sports sites, said industry estimates is that $1.1 million in revenue was generated last year in Mississippi by playing fantasy sports.
The legislation passed during the 2016 session dealing with fantasy sports was needed after an official opinion by the office of Attorney General Jim Hood labeled fantasy sports as a type of gambling, thus not permitted without legislative authority.
The legislation allows fantasy sports operations to continue in Mississippi until July 1, 2017. The idea is that during the 2017 session, based on recommendations of the task force, legislation will be put in place developing regulations for the industry.
Fantasy sports participants can play online or at casinos in Mississippi. Tindell said people from other states, such as Louisiana where fantasy sports is not allowed, can play in Mississippi casinos.
Participants draft players from sports leagues, within the constraints of a salary cap, and whether they win is based on the statistics of the players they draft. People pay a fee to participate.
Finan said about 475,000 Mississippians played fantasy sports in 2015 and 57 million Americans.
The task force will be looking at legislation passed in other states at its next meeting in August.