We disagree on the merits and will be working with the commission and potentially the legislature so we can ensure Florida sports fans can continue to play. As the legal battle over Florida sports betting plays out in federal — and, since Monday, state court — another dispute has erupted in the Sunshine State after regulators sent cease and desist letters to three prop-style daily fantasy sports (DFS) operators.
Copies of the letters were first uploaded by Florida Regulatory Watch, a public-facing general information website managed by the Tallahassee-based law firm Dean, Mead, and Dunbar.
What the Cease and Desist Letters Said
The letters were nearly identical. In each, FGCC Executive Director Louis Trombetta demanded that the DFS operators “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.
“Additionally, I am hereby demanding you immediately cease and desist promoting or conducting any illegal lotteries. This includes, but is not limited to, giveaways of cash or other prizes designed to induce Florida residents to sign up for or place otherwise illegal bets or wagers on your platform.”
Trombetta threatened to have Florida AG Ashley Moody prosecute any operators that defied the order.
Reaction was swift from the DFS operators and their supporters.
“We strongly disagree with their assessment,” Jeremy Levine, founder and co-CEO at Underdog Sports, said on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter. “We will continue operating our fantasy contests in Florida as we engage with the commission and elected officials.”
John Lockwood, a Tallahassee-based gaming law attorney, told multiple news outlets that FGCC staff “confirmed to me 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.
“We disagree on the merits and will be working with the commission and potentially the legislature so we can ensure Florida sports fans can continue to play.”
Another gaming law attorney, Marc Edelman, a tenured law professor and Sports Ethics Director at Baruch College in New York, said on X that he wasn’t surprised by the ruling.
Prop bets are popular in DFS because they give bettors the opportunity to place wagers based on over/under predictions. Larger operators like DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel are reportedly interested in offering such bets as well.
Such sites are also popular and available in several states, although some are reportedly considering reining in prop-style DFS.
PrizePicks says its platform is legal in 31 US states. Underdog Sports says it’s available in 32. Both also accept customers from all over Canada, except for Ontario.
Betr is a smaller operator. Its platform is live in just 23 states, plus DC.
Plaintiffs Are Now In State Court, Too
With its letters, the FGCC could be looking to clear the decks ahead of a potential launch of sports betting.
The two plaintiffs that sued in federal court over Florida sports betting — West Flagler Associates and the Bonita Fort-Myers Corporation — are starting to run out of options in that venue.
On September 11, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied the plaintiffs’ motion to rehear the case. It’s unclear whether the US Supreme Court will take the case.
Two weeks after the appellate court denied the parimutuels a rehearing, the US Department of Interior (DOI) urged the court not to impose a stay and to allow Hard Rock Bet to launch. The DOI also argued that the plaintiffs should have filed their complaint in state court — which they did just before midnight.