Is it Legal?
Writer’s Note: This is not to be construed as legal advice. We are not attorneys and therefore any information we pass along here is simply to be used in a general manner. If you have legal questions, or are trying to find an answer to a specific situation, please consult a member of your state’s bar association.
One of the most commonly-asked questions about fantasy sports is whether or not they are legal to play. We saw what the U.S. Congress did with online poker, eventually shutting it down, forcing all cash websites to go off-shore. Fortunately for fantasy sports players, with just a few exceptions, it is legal to play them in the United States. All states currently permit fantasy sports to be played for money, except for:
- *As of 11/10/2015: New York has banned Daily Fantasy Sports. This decision is being appealed in court.*
Those five states have particular laws concerning what they accept as a game of luck versus a game of skill. Unfortunately for residents of those five states, it is not possible to sign up for cash games on Daily Fantasy Sports websites… They can only play for free.
Since fantasy sports are widely recognized as a game of skill, they do not fall under the gambling laws established by Congress. They are exempt under the UIGEA, otherwise known as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. The only caveat to this is that prizes must be determined ahead of time, and not based on the amount collected in fees, or the number of participants. Also, the outcomes must be based on multiple sport events – not just on a single game.
What if I don’t want to bet money?
If you don’t want to bet money, you can play all you want! There are tons of free tournaments on all the major fantasy sports sites. Playing free games is a good place to get your feet wet while you get used to the website platform, and drafting your teams.