Bill regulating daily fantasy sports games advances
A bill that would legalize daily fantasy sports games that have been banned in other states cleared its first hurdle in the state Legislature on Tuesday, but picked up key public opposition in the process that makes it anything but a sure bet to pass this year.
The bill, which easily passed the House Business and Professions Subcommittee, would require companies that offer season long and daily fantasy sports games to 750 or more people per year to pay $500,000 to register with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. It would also require them to bar minors and employees of fantasy sports operators from participating in games they offer.
State Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, said his bill “creates a permissive and yet regulated environment to ensure Floridians can participate in fantasy contests.
His legislation comes at a time that proliferation of daily fantasy sports games run by companies like FanDuel and DraftKings are under increasing scrutiny nationwide. Late last year Nevada barred daily fantasy sports games from operating in that state without a gaming license. And in New York the state attorney general has been fighting to shut them down.
“I think other states have got it wrong,” Gaetz said.
But other gambling operators in Florida say the daily fantasy sports games are definitely a form of gambling run by companies making billions of dollars.
“Let’s not kid ourselves,” said Marc Dunbar, a gambling lobbyist who testified against the bill on Tuesday. “This is gambling."
Dunbar represents the Stronach Group, which runs Gulfstream Park a horse racing track in South Florida.
Although Gaetz contends daily fantasy sports games are not gambling, he agreed to allow an amendment to be added to his bill on Tuesday that would certify that 7.5 percent of fees paid to the state by fantasy sports companies would go to gambling addiction counseling services.
Gaetz's bill still has another committee to pass in order to get a full vote in the Florida House. A similar bill in the Senate has been filed by Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, but has not been heard in any of three committees it has been assigned to be heard in.