Florida legislators have continually resisted gambling expansion, but apparently that doesn’t apply to daily fantasy sports.
Once again, a lawmaker has filed a bill to make daily fantasy sports exempt from gambling regulation. Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, filed a bill on Wednesday. No companion bill has yet to be filed in the Florida Senate.
The state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which oversees racetrack gambling, poker, slots and other gambling, would not be privy to regulating DFS, according to the proposed bill.
Last year Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, and Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, filed similar bills.
Florida is mired in gambling challenges that range from a current suit that might bring slots to any county that approves a referendum to a recent ruling that voided the Seminole Tribe’s contract with the state.
And according to Florida gaming lawyer Daniel Wallach, a partner with Becker & Poliakoff, the “skill” versus “chance” distinction on which the legality of DFS turns in so many states simply does not apply in Florida.
“In Florida,” Wallach notes, “it is illegal to bet or wager on both games of chance and contests of skill. So calling it a ‘contest of skill’ does not insulate the games under Florida law because wagering in those types of contests is also illegal.
“In my view, DFS would probably be considered ‘gambling’ under Florida’s broad test,” he added.
Wallach describes the new bill as “a straight-up decriminalization measure that comes at a potentially heavy cost for consumers—no regulatory oversight, and, even worse, no regulations (unlike in other states).”
The bill, he adds, “just simply removes DFS from the ambit of the state’s gambling laws without providing any consumer protections.”
According to a report by Jim Rosica at FloridaPolitics.com, an “Office of Amusement” would have been established to keep tabs on such operators, but, as Wallach points out, the new bill does not provide for any agency oversight.
Brodeur told Rosica that his bill puts registration requirements, among other provisions, on fantasy operators who have customers here.
“The millions of Floridians who play fantasy games deserve to know that what they’re doing is not a crime,” Brodeur said.
Wallach counters that “no fantasy sports player has ever been prosecuted in Florida (or nationally for that matter) simply for competing in a fantasy sports contest, and it is unlikely that any federal or state law enforcement agency would target players for prosecution even if the law were to remain unchanged.”