On the heels of the return of Florida sports betting, several bills have emerged addressing daily fantasy sports in the Sunshine State.
A Florida daily fantasy sports bill introduced by Sen. Travis Hutson would create the framework for Florida’s gaming commission to regulate DFS, which have mostly operated in a legal gray area. Other states have executed similar moves after launching legal Florida sports betting, which returned to the state late last year.
The difference between the two industries has increasingly blurred as a new wave of DFS games resembling player prop parlays gain popularity nationwide. In the past year, a handful of states have banned or taken steps to restrict those “pick’em” games, including Florida.
What Florida bill would do
The bill would create the framework for DFS operators to get licensed, and for the Florida Gaming Control Commission to develop and enforce rules for the industry. Hutton’s proposal lays out a statute for those rules:
- Fantasy operators may not be game contestants (i.e., players competing against the house)
- Minimum age to play DFS is 21 years old
- Annual third-party audits for operators
- No outcome may be based on a score or point spread
- Licenses renewed annually
Hutson did not return a request for comment.
Daily fantasy sports bills accompany Florida sports betting
A bill filed in December by Rep. Jason Shoaf would create the framework to legalize all forms of DFS, including controversial pick’em games, which typically pit players against the house.
It came after the FGCC sent cease and desist letters to fantasy operators Betr, PrizePicks and Underdog Fantasy, who include player vs. house pick’em among Florida offerings. Those orders defined the entry fees associated with those games as “illegal bets.”
Those companies declined comment on this story. Each continues to offer pick’em DFS in Florida despite the regulatory rebuke.
The switch to peer-to-peer
In light of the growing number of states taking aim at pick’em, Underdog recently began offering similar peer-to-peer games in multiple states. DraftKings took a similar step when it launched its new peer-to-peer pick’em game shortly after.
That attempts to satisfy questions of skill versus chance, but Florida’s fantasy sports environment is about as murky as its swamps. This is not the first time legislators have tried to address it.
Unclear Florida daily fantasy sports landscape
Save for a 1991 Attorney General’s opinion that predates daily fantasy sports apps, definitive rules for the fantasy industry have been few and far between.
Attempts to codify the industry since have fallen short, though DFS apps have continued catering to Floridians. In the aftermath of their cease and desists, the FGCC updated its FAQ page to identify all forms of fantasy as likely illegal.
As it stands, the FGCC views the Seminole Tribe’s exclusivity over online sports betting to include online fantasy as well. Should Hutson’s bill become law, it would direct the FGCC to reverse that view, though it would gain the power to enforce rules against player vs. house DFS.