Florida Gaming Control Commission Working On Response To Senator’s Letter Regarding Fantasy Sports

Florida Gaming Control Commission Working On Response To Senator’s Letter Regarding Fantasy Sports
Fact Checked by Nate Hamilton

Staffers with the Florida Gaming Control Commission are working on a response to a letter to a state lawmaker who raised questions about the regulatory body’s actions against certain fantasy sports operators.

That’s the message Executive Director Louis Trombetta delivered to commissioners during their first meeting of the year Thursday in Tallahassee. The letter was sent by Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, last month asking why the agency only sent cease-and-desist notices in September to three fantasy sports operators and not to FanDuel or DraftKings.

After Trombetta’s remarks, Commissioner John D’Aquila pushed back slightly and asked when the FGCC would respond, citing the media attention Gruters’ letter received.

“I know you said we will get to it, but are we doing everything possible to respond in a timely fashion to the senator? Especially in light of the legislative session that is now taking place starting this week,” D’Aquila asked.

Trombetta did not give a specific date for when the response would be sent.

“Obviously, with the holidays, we also have some key personnel that are out for one reason or another,” Trombetta said. “So, we are doing everything we can to respond quickly.”

PrizePicks, Underdog Fantasy, and Betr received the letters from the commission in September. The agency notified the operators that state officials received information they were taking illegal bets from Florida residents and that fantasy sports games are illegal in the state.

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Senator Questions Commission’s Stance On Fantasy

In his letter, Gruters pointed out that state Sen. Travis Hutson, R-St. Augustine, who crafted the 2021 law establishing the FGCC, considered fantasy sports contests legal in the state. He also questioned why the letter to the operators said their actions were illegal, but the commission’s website only states that the games are “probably” illegal.

“It is estimated that as many as 3 million Floridians participate in fantasy sports contests,” Gruters wrote. “While fantasy sports contests are not directly addressed in Florida law, the popularity of the contests suggests the public understands these contests to be legal.”

The cease-and-desist letters targeted operators offering pick’ em-style single-player fantasy contests. Critics have argued those games, where the player competes against the operator, are no different than parlays offered by sportsbooks and should not be considered fantasy games. 

Since the letters were sent, Seminole Gaming restarted its Florida Hard Rock Bet sports betting app after a two-year hiatus due to a federal court ruling that has since been overturned. The Seminole Tribe of Florida received exclusive statewide sports betting rights, including online, as part of a 30-year gaming compact extension negotiated with Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2021. That compact is still the subject of lawsuits before the U.S. Supreme Court and the Florida Supreme Court.

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Bills, Bills, Bills

Trombetta also told commissioners that his staff continues to review gaming bills filed by state lawmakers for the 2024 session. He said he could not recall a session during his 10 years in Florida gaming where there were so many bills tied to the industry.

Some of those measures are backed by the FGCC, including one that would stiffen penalties on illegal gaming activities and another that would allow the commission to create a trust fund like other Florida law enforcement agencies.

“When they seize contraband or when they seize things, they can essentially put the proceeds into a trust fund that can be used for good,” he explained. “We do not have that in our enacting bill, so we’re trying to get that as well.”

FloridaBet.com will monitor legislation coming from the state legislature and the ongoing developments in the Florida sports betting lawsuits. Follow us on X (@florida_bet) to get updates as they happen.

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Author

Steve is an accomplished, award-winning reporter with more than 20 years of experience covering gaming, sports, politics and business. He has written for the Associated Press, Reuters, The Louisville Courier Journal, The Center Square and numerous other publications. Based in Louisville, Ky., Steve has covered the expansion of sports betting in the U.S. and other gaming matters.

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