Florida Lawmaker Bets on Legalizing Fantasy Sports Games

Published March 1, 2017

Florida state Rep. David Brodeur (R-Sanford) has proposed a bill defining daily fantasy sports games as games of skill, which would remove these online player competitions from state gambling restrictions.

Daily fantasy sports (DFS) services, such as DraftKings and FanDuel, allow players to compete online by selecting professional athletes for fictional “fantasy” teams, comparing real-world performance statistics over an agreed-upon period. Teams with the best results can win prizes or cash.

Popular Among Floridians

Brodeur says House Bill 149 would benefit consumers by clarifying the legal status of DFS competitions, removing questions about the popular entertainment activity’s legality in Florida.

“More than three million Floridians participate in fantasy sports,” Brodeur said. “I believe it will be a relief for all of them to know that they can no longer be perceived as criminals.”

Brodeur says physical games of skill, such as golf tournaments, are similar to virtual games of skill such as DFS games.

“If we allow people to enter contests for an entry fee in exchange for a chance to win an overall prize, as we do in golf and bowling and fishing tournaments, then participating in a fantasy football league should also be definitively legal,” Brodeur said. “Gambling pertains to games of chance, not skill. A definition of the activity was needed to settle the question of legislative intent.”

Protecting Criminals, Not Consumers

Michelle Minton, a researcher specializing in consumer policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, says restrictions on forms of entertainment such as gambling and DFS don’t protect consumers as intended.

“Laws that block or restrict adults’ access to gaming aren’t consumer-protection regulations,” Minton said. “They don’t protect anyone, except maybe illegal bookmakers, who will happily serve the black market. Criminalizing the activity will never stop people from finding a way to gamble. We’ve been gambling since the dawn of history, probably longer.

“On the other hand, legalizing the activity affords states the opportunity to monitor licensed operators and tap into the billions of dollars currently being spent on the black market,” Minton said.

‘Gangs Love a Prohibition’

Minton says government restrictions and bans generally create more crime than they prevent.

“Mobs and gangs love a prohibition,” Minton said. “It eliminates their competition and drives otherwise law-abiding citizens into their world, where there are virtually zero consumer protections.”