Daily Fantasy Sports Pick’em Operators to Leave Florida by March 1, 2024

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Following the second round of cease and desist letters recently sent out by the Florida regulatory body to daily fantasy sports pick’em operators in the state, Betr, PrizePicks and Underdog Fantasy reportedly plan to leave Florida by March 1, 2024. The operators are facing similar issues in some other states and reportedly consider court response to regulators’ orders to leave such states.

Timely Cessation Triggers Compliance:

As reported by Legal Sports Report (LSR), Florida gambling authority promised not to take further legal actions against the operators if they leave the state within the given deadline. The letter distributed to sports pick’em operators in January 2024 reportedly reads: “If the cessation is completed within that timeframe, the Commission will deem the company and all its officials, directors and employees to have complied with the demands of the cease-and-desit order, and the Commission will not take further action, including referral to the Office of Statewide Prosecution or to any State Attorney.’’

LSR reports that the operators are likely to comply with the letter. “We can confirm that we have reached a negotiated resolution with the FGCC to cease operating our current contests on March 1st,” a PrizePicks spokesperson reportedly stated. “That resolution, however, makes very clear that we are welcome to operate in the state in the future and we will provide additional details on go-forward operations in due course.” The same source reports that Betr and Underdog Fantasy did not comment the letter, while the Coalition for Fantasy Sports reportedly stated that ‘’it will remain committed to ensuring its member companies remain in the state.’’ The Coalition also stated that it will actively engage with Florida authorities ‘’to protect the ability of fantasy sports fans,’’ according to LSR.

Cease and Desist Letters:

As reported, Florida regulators sent the first round of letters to DFS operators in September 2023 requesting that they cease offering or accepting ‘’illegal wagers’’ immediately. The Florida Gaming Control Commission reportedly proceeded to officially identify all forms of fantasy sports as “likely illegal” at its web page a week upon the distribution of the cease and desist letter. The second round of letters came in January to request that the operators leave Florida by March 1.

According to LSR, multiple states have recently taken similar actions; Arkansas regulator sent cease and desist letters to PrizePicks and Underdog arguing that their offerings represent ‘’player prop bets.’’ In pick’em games, a bettor must simply choose which team would win the game. There is no spread, and the money line for each team is the same. But regulators consider them ‘’player vs house games’’ and request their exemption from Florida gambling offerings.

Regulator Requested Operators’ Exit:

As reported by LSR, Florida regulator reportedly called on PrizePicks, Underdog, and Betr to stop operations in the state. “Accordingly, as Executive Director of the Florida Gaming Control Commission, I am hereby demanding you immediately cease and desist offering or accepting bets or wagers from residents of this state on the results of any contests of skill such as sports betting, including, but not limited to, bets or wagers made in connection with fantasy sports,” the original letters reportedly said.

Seminole Tribe Supporting Legislation:

The letter sent in September 2023 was reportedly followed by the legislation exempting fantasy sports apps from state gambling laws. According to LSR, the legislature concludes its session on March 8. It seems to be the final deadline for DFS operators and these are reportedly working with their respective lobbyists in the state. LSR also reports that the Seminole Tribe, the exclusive gaming provider in Florida under the gaming compact with the state, has fully supported legislative efforts to exempt these three operators from the state gambling law.

Hard Rock CEO Jim Allen reportedly said that ‘’…it’s not just the Florida state gaming (commission) opinion, it’s not just in the attorney general’s opinion, but 11 other states … have flat out said what they are doing is gambling, they’re taking live bets, and it’s illegal. And, yes, unequivocally it violates the compact.”  As reported by LSR, the tribe’s Hard Rock Bet app re-launched in November 2023 after a two-year shutdown. The tribe resorted to the compact to continue operations, but DFS operators are facing shutdowns in the Sunshine State as a consequence of gloomy DFS legal interpretations, according to LSR, still widely based on the 1991 opinion from then-Attorney General Robert Butterworth. Multiple proposals to codify the industry have reportedly not passed any legislative chamber ever since.

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