The Florida gambling market saw a massive expansion in 2023. Sports betting returned to the Sunshine State and craps and roulette were added to the state’s casinos.
That was all thanks to a lengthy legal battle reinstating the 2021 Florida gaming compact. With the court case out of the way and Florida sports betting up and running, 2024 looked like it would be a quiet year for lawmakers on the gambling front.
That’s not the case.
The 2024 legislative session kicks off Tuesday, and two bills regarding daily fantasy sports are in the pipeline.
Bills take different approaches to controversial pick’em style games
Like in most states, daily fantasy sports companies technically operate in a grey area in Florida.
There are no laws banning the games. However, nothing expressly legalized them either. Most parties were satisfied with that landscape until Underdog and PrizePicks entered the fray.
These two operators began offering games that more closely resembled traditional sports betting.
Instead of picking players and winning or losing based on their performance, these games had customers picking whether their athletes would go over or under a set line in certain statistical categories. The customers were also competing against the house and not other players.
The changes make the contest much closer to prop bets at a sportsbook than some regulators like. As a result, several regulators opted to ban the companies from operating in their states.
Last September, the Florida Gaming Control Commission sent cease-and-desist letters to three companies offering those games. The commission claimed the companies were conducting unlawful fantasy sports and lottery activity in the state.
Both of these bills would provide clarity around the subject. But in different ways.
One would legalize the contests and the other would ban them
Last month, Rep. Jason Shoaf prefiled HB 679. The proposal defined what fantasy sports contests were and would legalize all forms of DFS.
In other words, it would clear the path for Underdog and PrizePicks to compete with DraftKings and FanDuel in Florida.
But just a few days before the new legislative session began, Sen. Travis Hutson filed SB 1568. This bill would also legalize daily fantasy sports. However, it explicitly banned contests against the house.
“Prohibit the contest operator from being a contest participant in a fantasy sports contest that the contest operator offers,” read the bill.
Additionally, the bill would give the FGCC the power to oversee and regulate the industry.
Seven other Florida gaming bills coming in 2024
Daily fantasy sports will be the hot-button issue for Florida gambling this year. But at last week’s National Council of Legislators from Gaming States conference, a Florida regulator said numerous other gaming bills are coming before the legislature.
According to SBC America’s Jessica Welman, FGCC Vice Chair Julie Brown said nine gambling-related bills were in the pipeline this year. Brown added the commission supported four of them.