Fantasy Sports Betting in Florida: Legal, For Now

Published November 2, 2015 by Elana K

Fantasy Sports Betting in Florida: Legal, For Now

As of now, fantasy sports betting in Florida is legal; but that might change.

Fantasy sports betting is illegal in five states, and Florida is not one of them. But as the expiry date for Florida’s gambling pact with the Seminoles approaches this year, Florida will be forced to take a look at the state’s gambling laws. And this means asking the question, should fantasy sports be legal or illegal?

Are Fantasy Sports like Gambling?

Senator Rob Bradley, chair of the Florida Senate Regulated Industries Committee, told The Miami Herald that sports betting companies FanDuel and Draftkings “are promoting a product that looks a lot like sports betting.”

But that’s not all. Following a scandal that involved insider betting, attorneys general in New York and Massachusetts have begun investigating sports betting, and Florida is following suit. According to law attorney Daniel Wallach, a federal grand jury in Tampa will begin looking into daily fantasy sports wagering in Florida.

Florida’s History with Fantasy Sports Betting

In 1991, then-State Attorney General Bob Butterworth advised that Florida law prohibited fantasy sports; but the federal Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006 specifically banned online gambling and allowed fantasy sports. The reason for this: Fantasy sports is a skill-based game, not a game of chance.

Because of this allowance, fantasy sports took off in the states, including Florida, and professional sports television ratings jumped, especially football, one of the most popular fantasy sports.

The place of fantasy sports in Florida, however, is yet to be determined. While opponents such as Senator Bradley want to include fantasy sports under the current gambling ban, influential lobbyists will be fighting on the side of FanDuel and DraftKings.

Those fighting to make fantasy sports illegal will have their work cut out for them; FanDuel and DraftKings are wealthy companies that will fight for their legality - and their revenue. How wealthy are these companies? To give you an idea: At the start of National Football League season, they plunked down $26 million on ads - during the first week of the season alone.

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