Legislation to legalize daily fantasy sports in Florida is gaining traction.
Senate Bills 1566 and 1568 both passed through the Senate committees this week. Republican Sen. Travis Hutson sponsored the legislation that defines daily fantasy sports and outlines how the state would regulate a DFS industry.
The bills unanimously passed the Regulated Industries committee by a 7-0 margin. Now, the bills head to the fiscal policy committee for another hearing and vote.
Currently, Florida daily fantasy sports are not specifically legal. While Floridians can play them at several sites, they are not regulated, so the state does not receive tax revenue from them.
The legislation would change that.
What to know about the companion DFS bills
The bill defines daily fantasy sports games as “a fantasy or simulation sports game or contest offered by a contest operator or a noncommercial contest operator in which a contest participant manages a fantasy or simulation sports team composed of athletes from a professional sports organization.”
Under SB 1568, the Florida Gaming Control Commission would regulate the state’s DFS industry. It would grant licenses to companies, which in turn would allow Florida residents 21 and older to participate. The commission could remove licenses if state contest rules are broken.
Additionally, SB 1568 would “prohibit the contest operator from being a contest participant.” That means players could not participate in pick ’em contest games against the house.
Only contests involving professional sports would be allowed under the measure. College athletics would be off-limits.
“Non-commercial” operators would also be able to offer fantasy sports contests under SB 1568. Specifically, all entry fees must be paid out as prizes. Payouts could not surpass $1,500 per season or $10,000 a year.
SB 1566 outlines licensing requirements to operate DFS contests in the state. For instance, a DFS operator would need to pay a license application fee of $1 million. Renewal fees would be $250,000. However, as it is currently written, SB 1566 would not allow fees to exceed 10% of an operator’s gross gaming revenue.
DFS games cannot creep into sports betting territory
There’s been plenty of conversation around DFS games recently, specifically how they mirror sports betting. Some options open to players look and feel like selecting proposition-style bets from a traditional sportsbook.
An analysis of the bills by the Senate’s Regulated Industries Committee looked to eradicate those “gray” areas.
“All winning outcomes must reflect the relative knowledge and skill of participants and be determined by accumulated statistical results of the performing individuals, including athletes in the case of sporting events. No winning outcome is based on the score, point spread, the performance of a single team or combination of teams; solely on any single performance of an individual athlete or player in a single event; on pari-mutuel events; on poker or other card games; or on performances of those participating in collegiate, high school or youth sporting events.”
Games that mirror sports betting don’t have a spotless track record in Florida. In September, DFS companies PrizePicks, Underdog and Betr received cease-and-desist letters from the gaming commission.
“Betting or wagering on the result of contests of skill, such as sports betting, including fantasy sports betting, is strictly prohibited and constitutes a felony offense unless such activity is otherwise exempted by statute.”
The companies contend their offering is not a game of skill.
Floridians can once again bet on sports
Florida just recently relaunched its sports betting industry. Residents can wager at several casinos and place bets online through the Hard Rock Bet app.
It makes sense why Florida doesn’t want DFS games to creep into sports betting’s territory. The state’s sports betting industry was crafted with the tribes in mind. The only online option is Hard Rock Bet Florida, which is a product of the Seminole Tribe. Residents cannot place traditional sports bets at industry favorites such as FanDuel or DraftKings.
However, both FanDuel and DraftKings do operate in Florida, but in the DFS space. Unlike Prizepicks, Underdog and Betr, though, they have not received notice to stop operation from the commission.
Officially legalizing and regulating DFS games in Florida could open the door for other operators to enter the space.
The earliest Florida could legalize DFS games would be in July, when these bills could legally go into effect.