Betr Picks, Underdog and PrizePicks have all been sent cease and desist letters by the Florida Gaming Control Commission.
The three letters are all identical, and allege that the three companies “may be promoting and conducting an illegal lottery.” It adds “This alleged conduct is strictly prohibited in Florida and constitutes criminal activity”.
The two paragraphs afterwards walk through the Florida laws in which the regulator believes Betr, PrizePicks and Underdog to be in breach. The first,states “Under Florida law, betting or wagering on the results of contests of skill, such as sports betting, including fantasy sports betting, is strictly prohibited and constitutes a felony offense unless such activity is otherwise exempted by statute.” It adds that sports wagering may only be lawfully conducted in the state should it be pursuant to a gaming compact, and as such the three companies targeted are abetting criminal activity and thus constitute felony offenses.
The next offense alleged falls under lottery, and the advertising of lottery, arguing that giveaways of cash or other prizes as an incentive for FL residents to join a platform to make illegal wagers also can be considered a felony offense.
Louis Trombetta, Executive Director of the Florida Gaming Control Commission concludes the letters with a strongly worded cease and desist order.
“Accordingly, as Executive Director of the Florida Gaming Control Commission, I am hereby demanding you immediately cease and desist offering or accepting bets or wagers from residents of this state on the results of any contests of skill such as sports betting, including but not limited to, bets or wagers made in connection with fantasy sports”.
Betr, PrizePicks and Underdog all hit, but what about DraftKings and FanDuel?
Per reports from Saturday Down South, all three operators have said they will continue operating for now. Both DraftKings and FanDuel, who offer DFS products in the Sunshine State are yet to receive a cease and desist letter, but SDS suggests “all Florida operators involved in paid fantasy sports have received, or will receive, a cease-and-desist letter”.
This is backed up by a statement received by Saturday Down South from a Florida gaming attorney who represents Underdog and other operators. He stated “The Commission staff confirmed that the language in the letter broadly applies to all paid fantasy sports contests and they are not aware of any paid fantasy sports company operating legally in Florida.”
Jeremy Levine, the CEO of Underdog, a DFS company that have been consistently outspoken in recent months, also shared correspondence with the Commission, confirming that the cease and desist letters do not relate just to the controversial Pick’em style fantasy game. Underdog’s legal counsel was able to confirm that all contests were considered illegal, and it is not limited to one specific type.
Florida online sports betting remains in limbo currently, as the West Flagler legal case versus the Seminole Tribe continues. It is expected that legalized sports betting could once more resume imminently, with West Flagler running out of legal avenues to explore after being rejected an en banc hearing recently.
Levine has previously lamented FanDuel and DraftKings in an open letter to Underdog customers for attempting to stifle innovation by claiming Pick’em fantasy contests are effectively prop-bets. Underdog also released a legal whitepaper under two weeks ago in an attempt to clarify how it believed daily fantasy is positioned legally.
The C&D letters end with: “Your failure to comply will result in the Florida Gaming Control Commission taking any and all appropriate action, including referring this matter to the Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution”.