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Lawmakers Eye Fantasy Sports Regulation

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Credit Skitter Photo

As lawmakers prepare to tackle gaming legislation in Florida, some question how fantasy sports might fit in. 

For most people football is about two things: cheering on your team and spending time with friends. And John Wilmot, a football fan and fantasy player says adding fantasy sports to the mix makes it even better.

“I for one, I love football and it’s just really fun to watch and the thing about football is you usually have one team that you root for and the thing about Sunday’s football is there’s lots of games going on. And most of the time the game that you want to be on isn’t on. So with fantasy sports it makes it so you can root for certain players. So, you’ll be watching a game and it completely changes the way you watch a football game, honestly,” Wilmot says.  

Wilmot knows a thing or two football as a spectator sport. He’s played both the traditional seasonal fantasy football most people think of. And he's tried out daily fantasy sports—through companies like Fan Duel and Draft Kings. One might even call him a fantasy football expert.

“Yeah, I’d say so, I’d say so. I’m number one seed on my league this year,” Wilmost says.

Meaning he’s won the most games in the seasonal league he plays in in Tallahassee with a group of buddies. They use an online program. Everyone who plays in his group puts in $50 at the start of the season and the top three players get a prize. But Wilmot says it’s not really about the money.

“We have a great time playing. It’s a really good bonding experience because for the most part, if we’re not just hanging out for no other reason, we’re watching football together and talking about it and enjoying it. I don’t know,” Wilmot says.

But Wilmot says in daily fantasy football, the kind typically offered by Draft Kings and Fan Duel, money is the draw.  

“The advertisements are very enticing. It looks like I’m going to enter it and be like some other average guy for $10 I’m going to win $3-million and be set for life just because I know fantasy football, which in reality is most of the time not the case,” Wilmot says.

And that’s one reason, some lawmakers say it should be regulated. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Shalimar) is behind a measure that would put fantasy sports under the purview of the Department of

Agriculture and Consumer Services, which currently regulates sweepstakes in the state.

But the point may be moot. Some say language in a gaming agreement between the state and the Seminole Indian Tribe would outlaw online gaming, including fantasy sports. But Gov. Rick Scott, who negotiated the agreement says that’s not his interpretation.

“There’s nothing in the compact with regards to fantasy sports.”

Meanwhile, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli says even if the compact does include language banning fantasy sports, he’s not in favor of seeing that happen.

“I don’t have an interest in making three million people in Florida immediate criminals.

But Crisafulli says he could be amenable to Gaetz’s legislation. Lawmakers will consider that measure and decide whether to approve the Seminole gaming compact coming up in the legislative session.

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