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Local Lawyer Discusses Daily Fantasy Football Fiasco

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – If you have watched a game on television in the last two months, chances are you've seen one of those daily fantasy sports ads.

Since August, fantasy sports leagues have spent more than $100 million in ads to get you to play.

"It was just kind of something to do for fun," Nick, a fantasy football player, told CBS4.

Nearly 60 million people like Nick have signed up to play against each other. And just like the ads suggested, he actually won a million bucks overnight.

"It was literally just one entry out of 229,000," he said.

But before you quit your day job, sports attorney Daniel Wallach wants you to know what you are getting into.

"That's not an accurate portrayal of the daily fantasy sports industry – a very small percentage. Some have reported less than 2 percent of the players are consuming or winning up to 80 percent of the profit," Wallach said.

In other words, a majority of players lose. But that isn't keeping anyone from gambling.  Norm Candelore, another fantasy sports player told CBS4 "it's fantastic."

In fantasy sports leagues, participants pick athletes to create their own teams. They are rewarded based upon how those athletes perform. Typically the contests last an entire season.

Wallach recalls, "We played it in our office with colleagues. We each chipped in $50 or a $100.  You are talking about a 'de minimis' amount of gambling."

And no one really paid attention to it.

But in 2014 daily contests took hold, and the money is huge.

The rapidly-growing industry is expected to generate $3.7 billion in entry fees this year and over $17 billion within five years.

All those commercials? It's about the money.

"What we are watching unfold here between DraftKings and FanDuel is the survival of the fittest. A race to the top," Wallach explained.

This week the race got ugly as a New York Times investigation revealed employees of the two biggest fantasy sports may have been using insider information to play on rival sites. They won millions of dollars. Both companies maintain employees did nothing wrong, however they will now prohibit employees from playing.

Jason Robins, appearing on ESPN's "Outside The Lines" admitted, "You know, I think this was a real eye-opening experience for us in retrospect. It seems obvious that that would cause people some concern."

The incident brings to light how fantasy sports, with billions on the line, is not regulated.

It is allowed to operate under federal law, because it's considered a game of skill, rather than chance.

Is fantasy sports legal here in Florida?

"This is the ultimate lawyer answer. I'm sorry to give this to you. It depends. The grayest state of all may be the State of Florida because we have an attorney general's opinion from 1991," Wallach said.

That opinion by Bob Butterworth speaks more to the office fantasy league, then gambling. It pre-dates dial up internet, smart phones, even the Florida Marlins.

"There hasn't been a single prosecution or attempt at a prosecution. So what the law says is one thing but as a practical matter, our residents and our fantasy sports players, they have less than 1.1111 chance of ever getting prosecuted for playing fantasy sports," Wallach explained.

Where is this all going? Wallach believes regulation.

"These industries are going to be legal. They are going to be taxed. They are going to be regulated. But right now we are in the Wild West. And the days of the daily fantasy football being completely free of regulation are about to end,"

Many believe Congress will act before Florida does.

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