Jason Shoaf | State Representative
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Shoaf proposes regulation of fantasy sports

In a potential needle-moving proposal, the Florida House of Representatives is considering HB 679, a bill designed to regulate fantasy sports contests across the state.

Introduced in the 2024 legislative session by 7th District State Representative Jason Shoaf (R-Port St. Joe), this bill seeks to define and set rules for the operation of fantasy sports contests, potentially reshaping the landscape of online sports gaming in Florida.

According to a 2023 market data report by Gitnux, 25% of all U.S. sports fans are involved in some form of fantasy sports activities, and nearly 60 million people across the United States and Canada participated in fantasy sports in 2020. Furthermore, the total market value of fantasy football alone was estimated at $7.22 billion, with its marketability growing year over year.

As a result, many state governments have already begun to capitalize on the immense revenue potential associated with fantasy sports, implementing measures that make daily fantasy sports winnings taxable and requiring players to report their winnings on a Form 1099-MISC.

HB 679, as proposed by Shoaf, defines “fantasy sports contest” to include games where participants pay an entry fee to manage a fantasy team composed of professional athletes with the chance to win cash prizes, all of which is regulated through a legal framework that ensures fair play and consumer protection.

Under the new legislation, fantasy sports contests would need to meet several requirements, the most crucial being the stipulation that contest prizes and awards be established and disclosed to participants before entry. Additionally, winning outcomes must reflect the relative knowledge and skill of participants and be based predominantly on accumulated statistical results of the performance of multiple individuals.

The bill also specifies what cannot constitute a winning outcome, such as the score, point spread, or performance of a single team, along with individual performances in single events, poker or other card games, and performances in collegiate or youth sports events.

If passed, HB 679 will exempt certain fantasy sports contests from a number of gambling laws, effectively legitimizing a previously ambiguous sector of an ever changing segment of betting. However, violations of the provisions in this bill would result in fines or even misdemeanor charges.

The proposed effective date for HB 679 would be July 1, 2024, ushering in a new era for fantasy sports enthusiasts in Florida and further legitimizing the growing viewpoint of fantasy sports as a burgeoning part of the sports and entertainment industry.

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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