Daily fantasy sports are not the same as traditional gambling, and should be allowed to continue, according to a new survey of Tampa Bay residents.
Conducted last week by the Tampa Bay Times, the poll found strong support in both Hillsborough and Pinellas counties for DFS websites like FanDuel and DraftKings. A majority of respondents said they are not the same as casino gambling and should be allowed to continue operating.
Of 605 registered voters polled, reporter William Levesque writes that 64 percent support allowing the sites remain as is or with some regulation. Only 18 percent believe DFS websites should be banned. The poll had a 4 percent margin of error.
The results suggest that Floridians don’t view DFS the same as slot machines and poker tables.
St. Petersburg resident Joann Markey told pollsters she didn’t have a strong view on DFS but was leaning toward letting the fantasy sites operate.
“If gambling is going to generate revenue for the state, then it’s fine,” Markey said. “What’s wrong with that? I don’t believe in invading a person’s personal space.”
“People are already doing it,” she added, “and they have been for years.”
Some state lawmakers, including Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, are considering regulation that would assess licensing fees for sites like FanDuel and DraftKings, allowing them to remain in Florida while other states, such as New York, have been targeting them as illegal Internet gambling.
One proposal would have fantasy sports companies pay a fee of $500,000 each to operate in Florida, as well as an annual charge of $100,000. The new regulation would declare the sites as games of skill, as opposed to gambling.
“One in every seven Floridians plays some sort of fantasy sports,” Gaetz told the Times in a recent interview. “The status of the law today makes these people criminals. My sense is, if 7 million people are doing something, and they aren’t hurting anyone, then I’m not sure it should be a crime.
Gaetz said that Floridians do not appreciate excess government regulation, and don’t want to live in a “nanny state.”
In 1991, former state Attorney General Bob Butterworth ruled that fantasy sports leagues, where participants pay a fee for a chance to win cash payouts, was a violation of the state’s gambling laws.
However, Levesque notes that Butterworth’s opinion was not used for an outright ban on fantasy sports sites.