Legal Clarity For Fantasy Sports On Florida Legislative Agenda

January 11, 2024
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A Florida senator has filed two bills that would legalize and regulate daily fantasy sports while trying to ban pick’em style contests that gaming regulators believe may violate state law, while a third proposal moves through the legislature.
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A Florida senator has filed two bills that would legalize and regulate daily fantasy sports (DFS) while trying to ban pick’em style contests that gaming regulators believe may violate state law, while a third proposal moves through the legislature.

Republican state Senator Travis Hutson has filed Senate Bill 1568, a proposal that is designed to regulate fantasy sports operators and provide consumer protections.

The bill, titled the “Fantasy Sports Contest Amusement Act,” would require the Florida Gaming Control Commission (FGCC) to adopt and enforce regulations governing real-money fantasy games. The commission would also monitor contests, access records and accounts, or deny, revoke or suspend licenses.

The intent of the bill is “to ensure public confidence in the integrity of fantasy sports contests and contest operators.”

SB 1568 would require all winning outcomes to reflect the knowledge and skill of the contest participants and “are determined predominantly by accumulated statistical results of the performance of individuals, including athletes in the case of sporting events.”

Hutson’s second proposal, Senate Bill 1566, lays out the application and license renewal fees for applicants for a fantasy sports contest operator license. The three-page bill requires a $1m licensing fee and a $250,000 annual renewal fee for commercial operators to do business in Florida.

As of Wednesday (January 10), both measures were listed as filed on the legislature’s website but not assigned to a Senate committee. The state’s legislative session runs through March 8. 

Neither of Hutson’s bills includes any proposed tax rate on daily fantasy sports.

Meanwhile, House Bill 679, filed by Republican state Representative Jason Shoaf, had its first reading in the Florida House of Representatives during the first day of the 2024 session on Tuesday (January 9).

Allison Harris, spokeswoman for the Coalition for Fantasy Sports, which represents PrizePicks, Underdog Fantasy and Sleeper, expressed the group’s support for HB 679 in December telling Vixio GamblingCompliance that the bill represented a win for fantasy sports across Florida.

The multiple bills filed in the state legislature come several months after FGCC executive director Louis Trombetta issued cease-and-desist letters to Underdog Fantasy and PrizePicks that described their pick’em-style games as online wagers.

Trombetta said he believed those games could violate the state’s gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe, which gives the tribe exclusivity for sports betting in the state.

California Fantasy Sports In Focus

While fantasy sports and pick’em style games are debated in the Florida legislature, the deadline to submit opinions with the California Attorney General’s Office regarding fantasy sports is the end of January.

Attorney General Rob Bonta is preparing a formal opinion on the entire DFS industry after receiving a request in October from Republican state Senator Scott Wilk.

“We were made aware of this in December,” James Siva, chairman of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA), said Wednesday during a webinar sponsored by the Indian Gaming Association (IGA).

“We are finalizing our opinion, and we will submit it by the end of the month,” Siva said. “We’ll send it into the attorney general’s office and hopefully they’ll take action.”

Siva said he found it interesting that there have been a lot of different attorney generals over the last decade giving their opinion on the illegal games the cardrooms offer and “we never get an opinion from them.”

“This request comes in from Senator Scott Wilk and they immediately jump on it and are getting ready to issue an opinion. To me, that seems like they are picking and choosing topics that they want.”

Fantasy sports is currently unregulated in California but not explicitly legal. FanDuel, DraftKings, Underdog Fantasy and PrizePicks are all active in the Golden State.

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