Now with the Super Bowl right around the corner - and a new legislative session about to commence - one key question remains:
What, if anything, does Attorney General Pam Bondi plan to do about the murky legality surrounding fantasy sports in Florida.
Let's scroll back.
It was back during the summer that the big players in daily fantasy - FanDuel and DraftKings _ started hiring lobbyists in Tallahassee as the same time they were starting a huge national ad campaign. Their moves came as a legal theory began to emerge that fantasy sports - the idea of selecting players in various sports and winning money based on their performance - was not allowed under Florida law.
This theory - which has been explored by South Florida attorney Daniel Wallach and further expanded in a paper penned by Wallach and Tallahassee attorney/lobbyist Marc Dunbar - says a key impediment is a 1991 opinion authored by then-Attorney General Bob Butterworth that concluded spending $100 on a season-long fantasy football team was illegal gambling.
It was shortly afterwards - some of it sparked by national reports of a DFS employee participating in a contest on a rival's website - that a backlash began to mount for the two big companies in other parts of the country. Nevada ruled that fantasy websites needed to shut down or be licensed, while the attorney general in New York said they were illegal gambling and is trying to shutter them.
Move to Florida and there are apparent signs of some prosecutors getting involved, namely that U.S. Attorney Lee Bentley in Tampa has reportedly launched his own investigation according to Wallach and others. There are also civil lawsuits being filed. And there was a key development in that arena when Law360 reported earlier this week that State Attorney Bernie McCabe has taken an interest in the issue.
McCabe, whose jurisdiction includes Pasco and Pinellas counties, filed a memo supporting an effort to remand the case against FanDuel and DraftKings back into state court because he asserted that the state was in fact the "real party of interest" in this case.
But it's hard to pin Bondi or her office down on how the state's top legal officer (and whose office houses the statewide prosecutor) views the evolving situation even as other law-enforcement officials take action.
Bondi has said she still supports the 1991 Butterworth opinion and has made no moves to rescind it or repeal it. But beyond that Bondi and her office continue to defer questions.
"Our office engaged in extensive discussions with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and we both agreed the matter should be handled federally,'' said Bondi spokesman Whitney Ray late last year "Also, our office is in regular contact with U.S. Attorney Lee Bentley, and we have full confidence that the U.S. Attorney's Office will handle the matter appropriately."
Additionally, so far Bondi has remained fairly quiet about whether she supports efforts by the fantasy effort to put in laws that would regulate the industry. Sen. Joe Negron and Rep. Matt Gaetz have sponsored bills to do so for the upcoming session that kicks off next Tuesday and FanDuel is increasing its workforce in anticipation of the new law being put in place reported the Orlando Sentinel.
(It's worth pointing out that even though the Negron and Gaetz bills directly affect his agency, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has also not been exactly clear whether he's a fan or not of either version.)
The big giants in the fantasy sports industry are being primarily represented in Florida by mega-lobbyist Brian Ballard and his firm. Ballard is of course a big-time fundraiser who is now supporting Marco Rubio for president and also lobbies on behalf of Donald Trump.
But late last August one of the other lobbyists who signed up to represent the fantasy companies was well-known GOP consultant Marc Reichelderfer. He is friends with Bondi and has done campaign work on her behalf.
When asked about it directly last fall, Bondi said she was unaware that Reichelderfer had begun representing the fantasy sports industry.
Some of Bondi's interactions with lawyers, lobbyists and how her office has handled such cases has drawn scrutiny, most notably in articles that appeared in the New York Times. So it can be argued that it's important for voters and citizens to know what her office is - or isn't doing on this.
Bondi during her five-year stint in office been very selective about what issues she will - or won't - engage in.
She once took a stance against casino gambling, but yet other times she has refused to take a position on bills even if they directly impact her agency operations. Bondi is also as of now remaining fairly quiet about what she thinks about the $3 billion compact negotiated between Gov. Rick Scott and the tribe (and which could allow a new casino in South Florida.)
With another session dawning, it will be interesting to watch whether or not the state's top legal officer weighs in on the various legal issues that surrounding gambling or gaming. Or if she will remain in a neutral (and silent) corner.
(This post has been updated to note that FanDuel is expanding its workforce in Florida.)