Florida Reworks Gaming Laws, Cracks Down on Fantasy Sports Businesses

Florida Reworks Gaming Laws, Cracks Down on Fantasy Sports Businesses

In a push to regulate gaming, Florida has three new bills addressing gaming licenses and fantasy sports

Javier Manjarres
Javier Manjarres
February 14, 2024

TALLAHASSEE, FL—Republican Sen. Travis Hutson has introduced SB 1566, requiring the Florida Gaming Control Commission to both oversee fantasy sports businesses and mandate they be licensed. According to the legislative measure, businesses must pay an application fee of up to $1 million and an annual renewal fee of up to $250,000. Hutson's other bill, SB 1568, adds a definition of "fantasy sports" to state law.

According to the summary of Hutson’s bill, here are the requirements: Fees/Fantasy Sports Contest Operator; Requiring applicants for a fantasy sports contest operator license to pay a specified application fee; requiring contest operators to pay a specified annual license renewal fee; prohibiting such fees from exceeding a specified amount; requiring applicants and contest operators to provide certain written evidence; requiring contest operators to remit certain fees, etc.

The continued focus on sports gambling comes on the heels of Fanduel’s parent company Flutter listing on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in late January. Fanduel’s entry into the NYSE comes after DraftKing’s shares on the NYSE were up over 150% in the last 12 months.

The rapid growth of companies like DraftKings and Fanduel shows that the financial industry has a strong interest in sports gambling, but legislative roadblocks remain in Florida and across the country.

"I don't think that we need it," said former Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber. "Our economy is thriving, people are coming here, and we have a wonderful hospitality industry. All casinos do is cannibalize everybody else to usually just the benefit of a single person or business."

Cesar Fernandez, the former political operative and senior advisor to gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist in 2014, is the tip of the spear for Fanduel's online gaming efforts.

Fernandez worked hard to get where he is now, joining Fanduel to oversee multi-state lobbying for the firm.

Climbing the ranks in Florida, Fernandez ground it out at Converge Government Affairs before joining Uber Technologies' government affairs department.

During his stint with Uber, Fernandez was involved in the Tallahassee City Hall bribery scandal, where former Tallahassee City Commissioner Scott Maddux was sentenced to five years for his involvement in the criminal case.

Maddux was recently released from prison after serving only 18 months.

According to the Tallahassee Democrat, the media outlet of record in the state capitol, Fernandez was “listed in leaked federal court documents as a witness for the government” against Maddux.

According to reports, Fernandez met with Maddux in 2014 to discuss ordinances to regulate taxi cabs and ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft.

Fernandez couldn’t get Maddux to budge but appears to have eventually succeeded in influencing the now-convicted former city commissioner after Maddux suggested Uber retain an associate, Paige Carter-Smith, to help move the process along.

Uber later paid Carter-Smith a $5,000-a-month retainer to help in the process.

According to the reporting, “an email” between Maddux’s associate and “an Uber rep forms the basis of the wire fraud count that she and Maddox pleaded guilty to in court.”

Who was the Uber representative?

Leaked federal court documents show that Fernandez was listed as a witness for the government.

Sources within the Florida Legislature have told The Floridian that Hutson's measure is gaining traction and could find its way to the Senate floor for a full vote.

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Javier Manjarres

Javier Manjarres

Javier Manjarres is a nationally renowned award-winning political journalist and Publisher of Floridianpress.com, Hispolitica.com, shark-tank.com, and Texaspolitics.com He enjoys traveling, playing soccer, mixed martial arts, weight-lifting, swimming, and biking. Javier is also a political consultant and has also authored "BROWN PEOPLE," which is a book about Hispanic Politics. Follow on Twitter: @JavManjarres Email him at Diversenewmedia@gmail.com

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