Will Florida shut down DraftKings and FanDuel?

In this Sept. 9 photo, an employee in the software development department of DraftKings, a daily fantasy sports company, walks past screens displaying the company's online system stats in Boston. AP Photo

Popular fantasy sports websites like FanDuel and DraftKings pay out millions of dollars to players each week. By now you’ve seen their commercials touting how average Joes and Janes can win big money simply by playing.

The sites are legal in most states, but recently Nevada has fought back and told the companies they’ll need to pay a licensing fee if they plan to operate in the state. Could Florida be next to shut the websites down? Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner is exploring the state’s options to do so.

It’s not welcome news to Josh Burnett, a San Francisco 49ers fan who plays DraftKings for fun each week. “No, I wouldn’t like it that much,” he says.

Burnett says his friends told him about DraftKings. He signed up and gave it a shot. He won $80 one week. He likes the competition tied into his favorite sport – football.

“At the end of the day, if you guess right, you can make a lot of money, make a little money,” he says. “I broke even last week.”

Gambling regulators in Nevada recently issued cease and desist letters to FanDuel and DraftKings. “You can do this, but if you’re going to do this in our state it’s going to require a licensing fee, and in this case it’s 500,000,” Tampa Attorney Bryant Camareno says.

Gardiner has tasked lawyers to look into these companies. “I would remind you we ran the Internet cafes out of the state of Florida because they were outlawed and they were bad,” he recently told The News Service of Florida.

“You have the Nevada Gaming Commission saying that FanDuel and DraftKings are gaming and gambling. So we have an obligation, if we’re going to be consistent, that we need to look at them, and, if it’s gaming, then we need to react to it.

Camareno says each state can make it’s own rules on the matter but believes this could be an uphill battle. “If we can pick stocks over the Internet, why can’t we pick teams to win the football game on Sunday?” he questions.

“I think it’s a tough battle legally,” he added.

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