Legislation to legalize fantasy sports passes Florida Senate

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By: Jake Stofan | Capitol News Service
December 7, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- Nationwide, fantasy sports are a $150 billion a year industry, but in Florida, its legality is still murky.

A new bill would officially legalize the game, but the Seminole Tribe is warning lawmakers to make their decision with caution.

Florida has been trying to clear up the legal limbo surrounding fantasy sports games since 2015. Despite the industry's questionable legal status, roughly three out of every 20 people in the state actively play, and companies regularly advertise to the public.

While there are three million Floridians enjoying fantasy sports on a regular basis, nine states have explicitly banned them.

Legislation approved eight to one by a Senate committee on Thursday would officially give the green light to fantasy sports in Florida.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida sent a letter to legislative leaders, saying the move to legalize would be an expansion of gambling and would violate the tribe's exclusivity compact with the state.

Senate Sponsor Dana Young says fantasy sports are based on skill and don't violate the pact.

"It's matching my ability to look at statistics and the abilities of specific players and put together a strong team," Young said.

Senator Jeff Brandes says he trusts Young will be able to work out the kinks in the legislation.

"These things evolve during session, so I look forward to seeing how it all plays out," Brandes said.

If the tribe pulls out of the compact, it would cost the state more than $200 million a year.

The bill doesn't allow for betting on high school and college sports.

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