Will Florida Daily Fantasy Sports Bill Boost Underdog, PrizePicks?

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Florida daily fantasy sports

Florida daily fantasy sports apps operating amid legal turbulence received a potential lifeline in a proposal to exempt them from state gambling laws.

The Florida daily fantasy sports bill, introduced last Thursday by Rep. Jason Shoaf, would declare that fee-based contests hinging on the statistical outcomes of multiple professional athletes are skill-based, and thus exempt from state restrictions on the gambling industry. It would take effect in July 2024.

Shoaf’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Florida DFS bill details

The bill makes the following requirements for DFS contests:

Florida daily fantasy sports crackdown

The bill comes a little more than a month after the Florida Gaming Control Commission sent cease and desist letters to PrizePicks and Underdog Fantasy. Those orders described their DFS entry fees as online bets, which under the state’s compact with the Seminole Tribe may only be placed with Hard Rock Bet.

A spokesperson for the Seminole Tribe declined to comment on the bill. The group has opposed past efforts to legalize DFS.

Fantasy companies weigh in

PrizePicks and Underdog declined to comment, but the Coalition of Fantasy Sports, which represents those companies for lobbying purposes, provided the following statement to LSR:

“The Coalition for Fantasy Sports believes HB 679 will represent a win for fantasy sports fans across the Sunshine State, as it accurately codifies DFS as games of skill which is reflected both federally and in states nationwide. We look forward to working with legislators in the upcoming legislative session to protect fantasy sports fans and the games they love.”

Regulators break silence after sports betting is restored

After nearly two years of being offline, a recent court decision restored Florida’s only sports betting app.

Shortly after, the FGCC broke decades of silence on how it views DFS, an industry long accompanied by questions of skill versus chance. An increasing number of states are examining its overlap with sports betting and, in some cases, determining its outright congruence to prop wagering.

Those decisions led companies like PrizePicks to make their games free to play in Michigan, while Underodg has switched to pooled peer-to-peer pick’em in a handful of states. Several of those states took regulatory action against prop-style pick’em offered under fantasy sports laws.

Renewed push for Florida daily fantasy sports

A 1991 opinion from then-Attorney General Robert Butterworth suggests that fees associated with fantasy sports contests are gambling, though that was months before the internet’s first website and 16 years before the first DFS website.

Attempts to codify the industry in Sunshine State since have fallen short, though DFS apps have continued catering to Floridians. In the aftermath of Florida’s cease and desists, a FanDuel rep wrote to the FGCC defending the company’s games as legal, while also taking a shot at the legality of pick’em games. FanDuel, which only offers peer-to-peer DFS, has not received a letter.

The Florida legislature will convene for regular session on January 9, 2024