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Dana Young files fantasy sports bill

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State Sen. Dana Young on Monday filed her own version of a bill that would legalize and regulate fantasy sports play.

The Tampa Republican’s “Fantasy Contest Amusement Act” (SB 592) declares such games to “involve the skill of contest participants and do not constitute gambling, gaming, or games of chance.”

And it would prohibit the playing of fantasy sports on any “live pari-mutuel event” that could include dog and horse racing or on any amateur sports, such as college athletics.

“Today, more than 3 million Floridians participate in fantasy sports,” Young said in an email. “This bill ensures the games they love will continue to be legal in the State of Florida, while adding several consumer protection measures.

“The relevant laws on the books were written a long, long time ago in a different era, and they need to be updated to reflect current technology and to ensure that our friends and neighbors who enjoy fantasy sports can do so without any legal ambiguity.”

Young’s bill also comes after the filing of the Senate’s omnibus gambling overhaul for 2017 that already includes a provision to legalize and regulate fantasy sports through an “Office of Amusements.”

That legislation (SB 8), carried by state Sen. Bill Galvano, was cleared unanimously last week by its first review panel, the Regulated Industries committee.

But signs of future trouble in the House began when Speaker Richard Corcoran derided the 112-page measure. It would expand lottery ticket sales at gas pumps, authorize more slot machines, and approve the long-delayed gambling agreement with the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

“I’ve seen the bill, and look, it’s not where we’re at,” Corcoran said last week. “(I)t has to be a contraction (of gambling).”

A similar fantasy sports bill (HB 149) has already been filed in the House by state Rep. Jason Brodeur, a Sanford Republican.

It would exempt “fantasy contests” from regulation by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), which oversees gambling in the state.

Young’s bill, like Galvano’s, creates a separate “Office of Amusements” within DBPR. It requires an “initial license application fee (of) $500,000, and (an) annual license renewal fee (of) $100,000” and makes applicants submit fingerprints for vetting.

The bill requires fantasy sports operators to “yerify that contest participants are 18 years of age or older,” submit to independent audits and maintain records of daily operations for at least three years.

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Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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