One of the first acts of the recently-inaugurated Florida House of Representatives is to introduce legislation regarding daily fantasy sports (DFS).
The bill explicitly defines DFS as a skill game and not gambling. As such, the legislation proposes DFS games and sites can run in the state without regulation and oversight.
Specifics of the bill
The bill, known as HB 149, is a short bill outlining key specifics about the DFS industry in Florida.
Elements of the bill include:
- Fantasy contests cannot be sponsored or run by participants in any of the sporting events involved
- Prize pools and payout structures must be available prior to the start of a contest
- Contests are structured such that the outcomes are predominantly based on skill, such as statistical analysis
- Contests cannot revolve around only a single sporting event
- Contests cannot involve the score, points spread, or solely the performance of a single team or individual
HB 149 is sponsored by Republican Rep. Jason Brodeur. Brodeur has been a member of Florida’s state legislature since 2011.
Some might be familiar with Brodeur as the sponsor of the notorious “Docs & Glocks” bill. The 2011 bill proposed a hefty $5 million fine for any doctor who discussed guns with patients.
The Orlando-area lawmaker has moved on to bigger and better things since then. He was recently named the chair of the Health Appropriations Committee.
State of DFS in Florida
There is currently no official opinion on the books in the Sunshine State regarding the legality and nature of DFS contests. Currently most DFS sites are allowed to operate in Florida. The bill will clear up any gray area about the industry if passed.
Florida legislators considered a DFS bill in 2016. Debates over whether or not it was a skill game and possible license fees upwards of $100,000 a year resulted in the bill’s eventual death.
There are currently ten states which explicitly do not allow for DFS contests or require regulation and oversight for DFS operators. Currently, Yahoo Sports does not offer its DFS site in Florida. The site exited the market in October of 2015.
Part of the hesitance to offer DFS contests in Florida stems from a 1991 opinion by the state’s attorney general stating fantasy sports is tantamount to gambling. That opinion is not legally binding, but gives some operators pause about diving into the Florida market.
The state’s large population and substantial sports market seem to be too tempting for the big two to stay away. Should HB 149 pass, it would provide some much-needed stability to the state’s precariously-situated DFS market.