Florida To Take A Second Swing At Daily Fantasy Sports Legality, With No Regulation

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Florida daily fantasy sports

Florida is one of a large swath of states where lawmakers introduced daily fantasy sports legislation that didn’t become law in 2016. Eight states did move to legalize DFS last year.

In 2017, Florida will likely be one of the states the DFS industry focuses on most in its quest for legal clarity around the US. A new bill signals the start of that effort.

The new Florida fantasy sports bill

H 149 (summary here, full text here) was introduced last week by State Rep. Jason Brodeur.

The bill clarifies the legality of DFS only, and does not regulate the industry in Florida.

The bill is just two pages. It defines a “fantasy contest” and a “fantasy contest operator,” much like it is defined in the federal UIGEA and a host of state laws. Then the bill goes on to say contests and operators are not subject to regulation and are exempt from several parts of the state code, mostly pertaining to gambling and games of skill:

EXEMPTION.—A fantasy contest conducted by a fantasy 35 contest operator is not subject to regulation by the Department 36 of Business and Professional Regulation and is not subject to s. 37 849.01, s. 849.08, s. 849.09, s. 849.11, s. 849.14, or s. 38 849.25.

Brodeur told Florida Politics that he wants to clarify whether DFS is legal in the state:

“The question was never answered,” he said. “The millions of Floridians who play fantasy games deserve to know that what they’re doing is not a crime.”

If at first you don’t succeed….

Previously, the charge for DFS legality was led by state Sen. Joe Negron and state Rep. Matt Gaetz. That effort actually started late in 2015, and the bill never reached the finish line.

Legislation last year also sought to regulate the industry, however. It’s not clear why the DFS effort this year is starting without a regulatory component.

Like legislation anywhere, it’s very easy to introduce a bill. Moving it forward is an entirely different matter. Seeing as a bill that regulated DFS received pushback in 2016, a bill that provides no oversight would seem to have an even more uncertain future.

The other moving parts in Florida

There are lots of things to consider in Florida regarding DFS, outside of the bill itself:

It the bill does pass, it would be open season in Florida

The wording of the DFS bill in Florida is such that it would authorize things more akin to sports betting than most of the DFS industry as currently situated.

So far, similar language in other states has not been leveraged by an operator to offer what amounts to prop bets based on player performances under a DFS law. But such a development would seem to be just a matter of time, not a matter of “if.”

A large state that legalizes such activity for operators — with no regulation and no barrier to entry — would seem to be a good entry point.