Handicapping Prospects Of Florida Fantasy Sports Regulation Remains A Difficult Proposition

Posted on January 27, 2017

[toc]Daily fantasy sports regulation could encounter trouble in Florida the context of a larger gambling bill, with the possibility it could advance as a standalone effort.

Florida, a gambling bill and where things stand now

Gambling is not a simple topic in Florida, pretty much like in any state in the US. In Florida, everything regarding gambling occurs with the backdrop of the state’s compact with the Seminole Tribe, which operates casinos in the state.

This week, a committee in the Florida Senate committee considered legislation that would overhaul state gambling laws. That includes a new agreement with the Seminoles. The bill also includes language regulating DFS.

But while a Senate committee unanimously approved the bill, it still faces uncertain prospects in the House. More from Florida Politics, regarding House Speaker Richard Corcoran:

The person was overheard in a Capitol corridor saying he had spoken with the Speaker about the bill: “He’s not going for this free-for-all … He is going to let [the Senate] have their kitchen-sink charade for now.” …

Though the Senate may be poised to finally pass gambling legislation after years of inaction, wild cards remain in the form of the House, which remains to averse to anything looking like gambling expansion, and the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

That paints an uncertain picture for the bill as a whole, and any individual part of it, as well.

DFS has other paths. But will those work?

The tangled mess that is the omnibus gambling bill isn’t the only path forward for DFS in Florida.

One bill already exists in the House, which would legalize but not regulate DFS. At the Regulated Industries Committee hearing this week, Sen. Dana Young intimated that she was working on a standalone DFS bill. In the past, Sen. Joe Negron and Rep. Matt Gaetz championed DFS legislation.

The legislation from those lawmakers ultimately failed to get to the finish line. The reasons behind DFS progress slowing last year were not entirely clear. It did appear to be related to concerns from Gov. Rick Scott related to the Seminole compact.

Whether DFS regulation can succeed as a standalone bill or will need to proceed as a part of the larger gaming bill in 2017 remains to be seen.

Florida and DFS legal certainty

Florida has been a key state for the regulation of DFS, dating back to 2015. The legal environment has always been less than conducive in Florida. That includes the existence of a federal grand jury looking into something to do with DFS, to the murkiness of current state law.

Having any legal uncertainty in one of the biggest states in terms of population is something the industry would like to rectify. A legislative success here for DFS would be a major victory.

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Dustin Gouker

Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner.

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