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Florida lawmakers may kill fantasy sports regulation bills

The demise of the bills in both chambers came a day after DraftKings and FanDuel, the two largest fantasy sports companies in the country, publicly opposed proposed regulations in both the House and Senate bills.
FanDuels and DraftKings are the fantasy sports industry's dominant players.
FanDuels and DraftKings are the fantasy sports industry's dominant players.
Published May 18
Updated May 18

TALLAHASSEE — Legislation that would regulate the industry of fantasy sports in Florida appeared dead on Tuesday, as lawmakers scrambled to hash out gaming policy differences midway through a special legislative session.

Sen. Travis Hutson, R-St. Augustine, plans to withdraw the measure from consideration in the Senate and push the issue next year during the 60-day annual legislative session when there will be more time to negotiate with the House.

“We are just too far off to try and deal with this bill in the next three hours,” Hutson told the Times/Herald in a text message Monday morning.

Rep. Randy Fine, the chair of the House Select Committee on Gaming, also confirmed that the bill was dead in the House.

The demise of the bills in both chambers came a day after DraftKings and FanDuel, the two largest fantasy sports companies in the country, publicly opposed proposed regulations in both the House and Senate bills.

DraftKings and FanDuel are currently operating in the state with three million Floridians playing fantasy sports, said Scott Ward, a representative for both companies. Both bills would have outlawed winning outcomes from college fantasy sports contests, which Ward said hundreds of thousands play in the state.

“I do think that it’s ironic that the other bills being offered on sports betting allow you to bet on college sports but this bill will not allow you to bet on fantasy sports on college sports,” he said.

Furthermore, Ward complained that the House bill would have limited fantasy sports contests to the performance of seven individual athletes who play in at least five separate actual team events.

“Twenty-four states so far across the United States have passed fantasy sports regulation bills. Zero of those bills have this provision,” Ward told the House Select Subcommittee on Authorized Gaming Activity on Monday. “This provision would probably knock out 60 percent to 70 percent of the contests that are currently offered in the state of Florida.”

Those were the biggest concerns for the fantasy sports companies, which hired big teams of lobbying ahead of the special session. But Ward added the companies also did not like that both bills would have made 21 the minimum age for participating in fantasy sports contests.

Under the House and Senate plans, fantasy sports companies would have been required to pay the state an initial license application fee of $1 million and an annual license renewal fee of $250,000. The House would have further asked those companies to pay $1 per contest participant, an extra fee that the Senate did not include in its bill.

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