Following Fantasy Industry Outcry, DFS Bill Sponsor Pulls Legislation

Written By Jessica Welman on May 18, 2021
Florida DFS bill criticism

Just one day after a large public outcry against it by the fantasy sports industry, the daily fantasy sports amendment to the Florida sports betting bill is dead.

The Miami Herald reported the demise of the bill on Tuesday. Sponsor Sen. Travis Huston told the publication he is going to withdraw his legislation. Huston told the publication:

“We are just too far off to try and deal with this bill in the next three hours.”

FanDuel, DraftKings vocal opponents of DFS measure

Representatives from both FanDuel and DraftKings testified to the Florida legislature yesterday about their perceived issues with the daily fantasy sports (DFS) bill. Some of the issues included:

  • A $1 million license, which would be the highest DFS license in the nation
  • A $1 fee per contestant in each fantasy contest
  • Contest requirements that a single roster of seven players are selected from five different sporting events
  • No contests on college sports
  • Raising the age of participation from 18 to 21

The fantasy trade and lobbying organization Fantasy Sports & Gaming Association (FSGA) issued a statement decrying the bill yesterday. The major fantasy players also spent some serious lobbying dollars to try and defeat the measure.

Senate President says lawmakers could address DFS in 2022

After the Senate session recessed for the day, Senate President Wilton Simpson addressed the DFS bill:

“Obviously, we did have differences between the Senate and the House, and so it got derailed. The Senate was prepared to pass a bill, and it’s in the compact so it’s available to us to come back next year and clarify if necessary.”

The sentiment around Tallahassee is that this is not a dead issue, just one that couldn’t be ironed out in time for the week-long special session.

Could FL Gaming Control Commission be coming for DFS?

One of the reasons Huston proposed the DFS bill in the first place is to protect the industry. Part of the new compact establishes a Florida Gaming Control Commission to oversee gaming in the state. The commission is supposed to regulate legal gambling and crackdown on illegal forms of gambling.

With that in mind, Huston explained why he introduced the bill during committee yesterday.

“I do recognize that fantasy sports is a game of skill and I want individuals to continue to play and it to operate in the state. My big fear is now that we’ve created a gaming commission, they may look to shut that down,” Huston said on Monday.

” Maybe different attorneys will disagree with me, but I think at the same time I want to make sure that those that are operating this and those that are participating in this can continue to participate in it going forward,” he added. “That’s why I brought the bill, and I look forward to working with the interested parties and look forward to your continued support.”

While it is possible that the new commission could look to shut down DFS pending legalization and regulation, Wilton doesn’t believe that will happen this year.

“I haven’t heard of anyone getting challenged on the backyard game of fantasy football or baseball, or getting arrested for the game,” Wilton said during his press conference. “That’s what next year’s for. Next year’s only seven months away now, by the way, so maybe we’ll do that next year.”

Florida’s legal debate over DFS may be done for 2021, but lawmakers are already discussing it as a debate for 2022. Whether or not they consult the fantasy sports industry the second time around though remains to be seen.

Photo by AP / Sam Craft
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