FL regulators target DFS companies with cease and desist letter

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While Florida waits out a decision in the court case against the Seminole and Hard Rock Bet, state regulators are taking steps to crack down on other forms of sports wagering.

Florida Gaming Control Commission Executive Director Louis Trobetta sent cease and desist letters to multiple props-style daily fantasy sports sites informing them the regulators believe they are operating illegally. Recipients of the letter included Underdog, PrizePicks, and Betr Picks.

“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 Accordingly, in Florida, sports betting may be lawfully conducted only pursuant to a gaming compact. Further, receiving such illegal bets and wagers and aiding or abetting such criminal activities constitute separate felony offenses,” he wrote.

“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.”

While Trobetta’s letter did broadly categorize fantasy sports as prohibited, major operators of slate-style DFS contests like FanDuel and DraftKings did not receive any letters.

Underdog Founder and Co-CEO Jeremy Levine posted communication with the commission that verified the y believe Underdog’s slate-style games and season-long best ball are considered to be in violation along with the picks-style product.

“We strongly disagree with their assessment. We will continue operating our fantasy contests in Florida as we engage with the Commission and elected officials,” he wrote.

PrizePicks confirmed to SBC Americas that it also plans to continue operating in the state but will be speaking with regulators about the issue.

“PrizePicks is participating in the regulatory review of paid fantasy sports operators in Florida by the Florida Gaming Control Commission. We are eager to meet with the Executive Director, and the Commission, to discuss our business and our skill-based gaming platform. At this time, there is no change to our business operations within the state.  We are committed to ensuring that our valued members continue to enjoy their right to play the fantasy sports games they love,” a spokesperson said.

The nature of Florida’s laws have always been somewhat unfavorable towards any sort of daily fantasy sports offerings. As sports attorney Marc Edelman noted on Twitter, he won’t write legal opinion letters for Florida because his interpretation of the laws is that none of it is allowed.

On the other hand, attorney Darren Heitner posted a thread of his own to suggest fantasy operators are in the clear.

Florida is not the only state trying to clarify the legal bounds of sports wagering versus fantasy sports. States like Illinois, Wyoming, and New York are all in various phases of evaluating or, in some cases, prohibiting certain props-style fantasy offerings in the state.