DraftKings yet to receive cease-and-desist amid FGCC’s uneven fantasy sports regulation

by | Dec 12, 2023

  • The Florida Gaming Control Commission (FGCC) has not issued a cease-and-desist letter to DraftKings, a key player in the betting industry, despite having sent such notices to three other fantasy sports operators (Underdog Sports, PrizePicks, and Betr) in September.
  • The FGCC’s actions against the three companies, citing illegal sports betting activities through props-style daily fantasy sports, contrast with its apparent stance on DraftKings.
  • DraftKings maintains that its daily fantasy sports betting is legal in Florida, a claim seemingly at odds with Florida law as interpreted by the FGCC. The Commission’s broader interpretation of the law suggests all forms of paid fantasy sports contests might be illegal under current state statutes.
  • A proposed House bill by Rep. Jason Shoaf seeks to legalize daily fantasy sports in Florida, providing a clear definition and distinction from traditional gambling.

Despite issuing cease-and-desist letters to three other daily fantasy sports operators in September, the Florida Gaming Control Commission (FGCC) has refrained from taking similar action against DraftKings, spotlighting a potentially selective approach in the enforcement of regulations within Florida’s sports wagering industry.

DraftKings, a major player in the broader betting landscape, verified to The Capitolist on Tuesday that it has not been issued a cease-and-desist letter by the FGCC despite the agency’s September action against Underdog Sports, PrizePicks, and the celebrity-endorsed Betr. The notices accused the companies of potentially engaging in illegal sports betting activities within Florida through their offering of props-style daily fantasy sports.

“We can confirm that we have not received any communication of this nature from the Florida Gaming Control Commission,” a DraftKings spokesperson told The Capitolist.

In sending the cease-and-desist notices to the trio of companies, the FGCC contended that hosting fantasy-style betting platforms contravenes Florida statute, and refers to its offering as “strictly prohibited” and permissible only under a gaming compact.

“Under Florida law, betting or wagering on the result of contests of skill, such as sports betting, including fantasy sports betting, is strictly prohibited and constitutes a felony offense unless such activity is otherwise exempted by statute,” FGCC Executive Director Louis Trobetta wrote in the letters. “Accordingly, in Florida, sports betting may be lawfully conducted only pursuant to a gaming compact.”

Moreover, the Commission’s move seems to extend beyond just daily fantasy games. Emails obtained by News Service of Florida suggest that the legal conclusions of the letters apply to all forms of paid fantasy sports contests. As of this writing, DraftKings purports on its website that daily fantasy sports betting is legal in Florida.

Further demonstrating the offering’s failure to stand against state law, a House bill was filed on Nov. 30 that, if adopted, would permit daily fantasy sports to be played in Florida. Introduced by Rep. Jason Shoaf, the legislation specifically defines what constitutes a fantasy sports contest and distinguishes these regulated activities from traditional forms of gambling as well as establishes enforcement measures for non-compliance.

“[A] fantasy sports contest includes simulation sports games and means a contest in which a participant pays an entry fee and manages a fantasy or simulation sports team composed of athletes from a professional sports organization with the opportunity to win a cash prize,” the bill reads.

Meanwhile, on its website, DraftKings characterizes its daily fantasy sports offerings as competitions where players’ lineups vie for prizes in alignment with real-life games, a description closely paralleling the language used in Shoaf’s legislative proposal. This similarity underscores the notion that DraftKings’ games, as they describe them, may not fully align with current Florida state law regarding fantasy sports contests.

“[A] contest is the specific competition you and your lineup will be competing in against other players for prizes … for a specific real-life game or set of games,” reads DraftKings’ website. “You’ll want to draft a lineup of real players competing in the chosen games.”

Inquiries made with FanDuel, another major player in the national betting framework, went unanswered. At the time of the September cease-and-desist notices, they too had not received one from the FGCC, who also declined to comment on the matter.


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