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FANTASY SPORTS CONTESTS: LEGAL GAMBLING OR IS THAT JUST A FANTASY

Is it criminal gambling or is it legal? That's what everyone wants to know about Fantasy Football. Specifically, the daily fantasy sports cash contests that are offered by various nationally advertised companies and played on the internet across the nation by anyone and everyone.

Fantasy football has evolved, from a few friends getting together using paper, pencil and a sports section to compete in a season long game for bragging rights, into a multi-billion dollar computerized daily sports gaming business. Unlike online betting on pro teams, which is gambling, fantasy games are different. Fantasy teams depend on the performance of select individual players not on the performance of the real pro teams they play on. As such, people log in and pay to play by selecting their own "team" of individual players to enter a contest against other fantasy contestants' teams with payoffs in the millions.

As you can imagine and maybe have experienced certain people are more skillful at playing fantasy sports games than others. They draft better players, they make better trades, they know who to start on their team, they crunch numbers and they win more. That is what is important and that is why fantasy contests are considered a game of skill and not a game of chance. Therefore under the federal law the answer is no, it is not prohibited gambling because fantasy contests are specifically excluded under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA)

However, In 1991 the question of the legality of a fantasy sports league was posed to Florida's Attorney General who found that Florida Statute 849.14 prohibited the participation in such fantasy leagues for an entry fee with the potential to win the prize pot of cash. Even though it was conceded that fantasy games were a contest of skill the "bet" was illegal according to that opinion.

The current Attorney General's office and a Florida senator have recently expressed their view of fantasy games as illegal gambling. Also it has been reported that a federal grand jury investigation has begun of the on-line daily fantasy sites based on the federal Illegal Gambling Business Act (IGBA) of 1970. That makes Florida a dangerous area to play fantasy games.

Therefore whether traditional season long fantasy games amongst friends and daily fantasy games played on internet platforms are legal in Florida may have to be answered legislatively. Until then Stone Lockett is prepared to defend clients based on the clear federal law even if the law in Florida is murky.

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