[toc]A pair of Florida State Lawmakers will present daily fantasy sports legislation which aims to clarify the legal status of the industry while establishing consumer protection.
Who introduces the Florida DFS bill?
The news arrived via a press release issued by Republican State Senator Joe Negron and Representative Matt Gaetz. According to the statement, the two lawmakers had this to say:
“Currently 3 million Floridians participate in fantasy sports competitions, from traditional leagues with friends or colleagues to the most recent daily fantasy sports competitions,” Senator Negron said. “I don’t think these Floridians should face criminal prosecution for doing nothing more than participating in the fantastic sporting competitions they love. However, due to a dated Notice from the Attorney General, there is a need to clarify in Florida law that fantasy sports are legal, as well as instituting common sense regulations that cater to consumers. I believe this legislation will do just that.
“The government should have little or no involvement in the daily recreational life of Floridians,” said Representative Gaetz. “I’ve been playing fantasy football since I was in first year in high school and never felt the need to be protected by the government. Unfortunately, we have ambitious prosecutors who want to turn the 3 million Floridians who play fantasy football into criminals, which makes this legislation necessary. “
It is important to note, however, that there have been no reports that DFS users in Florida are currently in any risk of criminal prosecution.
Florida DFS Bill Basics
Here’s what we know about the legislation so far:
- The bill relies heavily on the UIGEA for language to define qualifying matches.
- License fee is $ 500,000 with renewal of $ 100,000.
- Who needs a license? A “game operator” is defined as “a person or entity who offers fantastic games for a cash prize to more than 750 members of the public”
- Employees and relatives in the household would be prevented from playing games with prices above $ 5.
- Players and officials blocked: The Bill prohibits “any individual who is a player, game official or other participant in a real world game or competition from participating in any fantasy game which is determined in whole or in part on the performance of that individual, the real-world team, or the accumulated statistical results of the sport or competition in which he or she is a player, match official or other participant.
- Protected player funds: The bill obliges operators to “[s]segregate the funds of the game participants from the operational funds and maintain a reserve in the form of cash, 90 cash equivalents, an irrevocable letter of credit, a surety or a combination thereof in the total amount of deposits to accounts of game participants for the benefit and protection of funds of authorized game participants held in fantastic game accounts. “
- Civil sanction for non-compliance: “Any person or agent or employee thereof who violates this chapter is liable to a civil fine not exceeding $ 1,000 for each violation that accrues to the State and may be recovered in a civil action brought by the Department.
The bill is in the same mold as a recently introduced Illinois bill which is considered relatively industry friendly. Other states, such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania – consider legislation that would be much worse for the DFS industry.
The Florida bill would appear to allow the DFS industry to operate on an interstate basis, and would not lock up Florida DFS players from the rest of the world.
The $ 500,000 license fee could be a sticking point, as it could be too expensive for everyone except DraftKings, FanDuel, and a handful of other larger operators. The $ 1,000 civil penalty mimics the Illinois bill.
You can read the full invoice here.
The climate for DFS in Florida
Florida is one of the hot spots for DFS, as a federal grand jury was convened there look into fantastic sports. The objectives and scope from this survey are unknown. As a result, several mid-level operators withdrew from the state, including Stars Draft.
Prior to increased media and government scrutiny over the past month, the Fantasy Sports Trade Association had hired lobbyists in the state. But lobbying efforts have resumed, according to the Miami Herald, with 10 lobbyists working for FanDuel and DraftKings, apparently. Also from the Herald:
While the Fantasy Sports Trade Association is new to Tallahassee, it is already wise in the money game, donating $ 10,000 each over the past two weeks to four of the biggest players in the discussion. State on the Game. This group presented checks to Political Action Committees headed by House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and House Regulatory Affairs Committee Chairman Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami. In addition, PACs led by Representative Matt Gaetz, Chairman of the Finance and Tax Committee, and Senator Jack Latvala, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee responsible for economic development issues, also received donations.
The bill also comes at a time when other the main state legislators are less enthusiastic about the DFS industry. From Tallahassee Democrat:
Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner has asked his legal team for an opinion on whether playing in contests like those offered by DraftKings and FanDuel is a game. The state of Nevada, long considered the mecca of gambling, has already made up his mind. The Nevada Gaming Control Board recently ruled that fantasy sports are gambling. The US attorney’s offices in Tampa and New York are also investigating the industry.
“President Gardiner is strongly opposed to the expansion of any form of gambling,” Gardiner spokesperson Katie Betta said. “With this information, senators can determine whether changes need to be made to the existing law.”
Senator Rob Bradley, Chairman of the Regulated Industries Committee, told TD that a fantastic bill passed in the near future was “unlikely.” In October he assimilated DFS to sports betting.
The Tallahassee Democrat’s story also notes that Attorney General Pam Bondi “Takes a hands-off approach” and allows the US attorney’s office to deal with the legality of the DFS.