Playing daily fantasy sports in Michigan

The answer to the question of daily fantasy sports’ (DFS) legality in the state of Michigan depends on who you ask. While the DFS industry’s largest operators believe DFS is legal, and continue to accept customers from inside the state, others disagree. In fact, Michigan Gaming Control Board Executive Director Rick Kalm said in 2015 he believed DFS is not legal at all.

This opinion came in the wake of state Senate introducing legislation which would amend the Michigan penal code to specify DFS is a game of skill. While this would have legalized the activity, it wasn’t necessarily an attempt to regulate DFS operators in the state. Really, it was more of a clarification. Regardless, the bill, and any efforts in terms of DFS legislation, died out in Michigan in subsequent years.

Another bill, which would have challenged the federal ban on sports betting, surfaced in the Michigan legislature in January 2017. The bill had a hearing in front of the House Regulatory Reform Committee, but no vote.

Daily fantasy sports regulation in Michigan

There are no regulations, taxes, or fees associated with DFS operations in Michigan. Moreover, there are also no plans to introduce any.

There was an effort to legalize DFS by amending the Michigan penal code to specify fantasy sports as a game of skill. However, the bill went nowhere, and never included regulations or taxes for operators.

In 2017, Michigan lawmakers were considering online gambling legislation. They now seem more interested in that than anything DFS-related.

In the meantime, the largest DFS operators in the country continue to operate in the state.

Michigan’s Attorney General on daily fantasy sports

Bill Schuette has been Michigan Attorney General since 2010, and has said very little to nothing at all about DFS.

When the Michigan Gaming Control Board said DFS is not legal in the state in 2015, Detroit News reported Schuette had not weighed in on whether he thinks fantasy sports websites were legal. In fact, Schuette spokeswoman Andrea Bitely said the AG’s office had no comment on fantasy sports, because offering general legal advice or answering hypotheticals about legal situations is not a part of the Attorney General’s mission.

There have been media reports claiming the AG’s office was looking into DFS in Michigan, but no formal announcements regarding any investigation or forthcoming reports.

Michigan’s biggest daily fantasy sports sites

In the US, FanDuel and DraftKings comprise more than 90 percent of the DFS market. Not surprisingly, these two companies are also the two most-popular DFS operators in Michigan.

The two companies entered into a merger agreement in November 2016. They expect to finalize the deal sometime in the second half of 2017. However, the Federal Trade Commission is currently investigating anti-trust violations with the deal. The results of that investigation are still outstanding. This review will ultimately determine if the merged company will constitute a monopoly.

How the company will function as a single entity going forward remains undecided.

How popular is daily fantasy sports in Michigan?

Michigan is the tenth-most populous state in America, with more than 10 million residents. As a result, it is a rather large market for DFS. The fact there is no legislation clarifying its legality hasn’t stopped Michigan residents from playing.

It is estimated DFS sites earn as much as $6.7 million annually from Michigan players. In fact, the state is responsible for almost 4 percent of all DFS contest entry fees across the United States.

Estimates suggest Michigan has more than 37,000 active DFS players. Those players are responsible for almost $70 million in annual entry fees, the tenth-most of any state.