The Florida Senate Regulated Industries Committee is considering a bill to redefine daily fantasy sports (DFS) competitions as games of skill, thus exempting such competitions from the state’s gambling laws.
DFS services such as DraftKings and FanDuel allow players to compete online in selecting professional athletes for fantasy teams and comparing real-world performance statistics over an agreed-on period.
Team “owners” with the best results can win prizes or cash.
State Sen. Dana Young (R-Tampa) is introducing Senate Bill 374 (SB 374). On October 16, the bill was referred to the Senate Regulated Industries Committee.
Importance of Skills
Success in DFS games depends on skill and knowledge, Young says, not gambler’s luck.
“Fantasy sports are a game of skill,” Young said. “If they were a game of chance, then a lot more people would be good at them. The fact that you have people who tend to win frequently is the exact point: You have to know what you’re doing with these games.”
SB 374 is about accommodating different ways of doing the same thing, Young says.
“Under this legislation, there’s no difference between the twenty guys that meet at the sports bar and play between themselves and the commercial enterprises that offer the games,” Young said. “The bill is really geared towards the consumers that enjoy fantasy sports as a pastime, and ensures that they can do so without fear of breaking the law.”
Steven Titch, an associate fellow of the R Street Institute, says governments should stop trying to micromanage consumers’ decisions.
“Governments shouldn’t be trying to weigh these things,” Titch said. “They should say, ‘We’re going to allow gambling, and this is what it is,’ rather than, ‘We’re going to have a little bit, and run it this way or run it that way.’ Basically, they should not try to micromanage it.”
Titch says gambling bans force lawmakers’ personal preferences and tastes on everybody.
“Let’s be adults about this,” Titch said. “Let’s not say somehow playing a $1 pool or a $10 pool is somehow okay, but doing it for $300 or $400 is not. That’s a pure value judgement.”
People may want to spend money differently than lawmakers prefer, Titch says, and they should be allowed to do so.
“It’s like me saying $20,000 is the right amount someone should ethically and morally pay for an automobile,” Titch said. “To allow someone to spend $100,000, to me, is a waste of money on a sports car that’s going to waste resources.
“That’s an equivalent moral issue to when we start making value judgements about whether a $1 bet is okay but $10 is not,” Titch said. “Is playing in a $1.50 poker game different than a $10 poker game?”