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Fantasy sports group backs proposed Florida regulations


It’s not often you see an industry pleading for more government regulations, but that is exactly what daily fantasy sports companies are seeking in Florida.

With other states threatening their very existence, a trade group for the daily fantasy sports industry – the Fantasy Sports Trade Association - is telling Florida legislators that they support new proposed regulations for their industry, which would also allow them to continue operating legally.

 “The FSTA welcomes legislation confirming that fantasy sports are fully legal in Florida,” said Peter Schoenke, chairman of the trade association.

The statement released today comes days after State Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, and Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, filed legislation that would require daily fantasy sports companies to pay $500,000 each to register in Florida and institute rules to prevent minors and employees of fantasy game operators from participating.

For the fantasy trade association the key to the legislation is one sentence that emphatically declares that the state’s anti-gambling statutes are not applicable to fantasy games.

The legislation comes at a time that other states have declared the emerging daily fantasy sports games as a form of gambling, because contestants pay money to compete for cash prizes based on the performance of real life professional athletes. Earlier this month, New York banned the two most high profile companies – FanDuel and DraftKings – from operating in that state. Nevada in October declared daily fantasy sports games a form of gambling that must seek a gambling licenses before offering their contests to Nevada residents.

But in Florida, the daily fantasy sports games have largely been able to go on without interference from state officials. A spokesman for Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said she has had “extensive discussions” with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and they agreed the matter should be handled federally.

And state lawmakers have shown little interest in banning the games. Negron said last week that the games are contests of skill that require a lot of research. He said it is no different than a bowling tournament – which is legal in Florida.

The Fantasy Sports Trade Association has been building up their presence in Florida’s state capital. In August, FanDuel, DraftKings and the FSTA all hired a team of lobbyists in Tallahassee. And over the last 40 days the FSTA has doled out $122,000 in campaign donations over about a 40-day period to some of the most important players in Tallahassee.

Below is a list of political committees that received money from the FSTA and which lawmakers are affiliated with them:

$30,000 – Florida Roundtable – Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes

$10,000 – Growing Florida’s Future – House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island

$10,000 – Florida Leadership Committee – Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater

$10,000 – Citizens United for Liberty and Freedom – Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne

$10,000 – Working for Florida’s Families – Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island

$10,000 – Rebuild Florida – Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami

$10,000 – Economic Freedom Foundation – Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach

$10,000 – The Conservative – Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon

$5,000 – Moving Florida Forward PC – Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach

$5,000 – Stand For Florida – Sen. Joe Abruzzo, D-Wellington

$5,000 – Friends of Dana Young – Rep. Dana Young, R-Tampa

$2,500 – Southermost Preservation Fund – Rep. Holly Raschein, R-Key Largo

$2,500 - Floridians for Common Sense - Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg.

$2,000 – Floridians for Better Government – Rep. David Richardson, D-Miami Beach