Top US Sportsbooks Invest in Florida Sports Betting Ballot Initiative
Legal sports betting appears to be coming to the state of Florida. However, how that industry will be regulated is still up in the air.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis struck a deal with the Seminole Tribe of Florida in a new gaming compact. The new 30-year deal would maintain the tribe’s current monopoly on all forms of gaming within the state, including legal sports betting.
Earlier this year, state lawmakers voted into law legislation that approved the new compact between Gov. DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe.
Both FanDuel and DraftKings have stepped into the situation in an effort to protect their business interests in what has the potential to be one of the biggest markets in the US for legal sports betting.
As the two biggest players in the game, FanDuel and DraftKings have each donated $10 million to the Florida Education Champions political action committee in the month of June. This is to help fund an effort to file a proposed constitutional amendment that would address the issue of legal sports betting in Florida.
A state constitutional amendment would have to be voted on by Florida residents as part of a ballot referendum. This could throw a major roadblock into the governor’s $2.5 billion deal with the Seminole Tribe.
David Johnson is the chairman of the Florida Education Champions PAC. He added the following comments in a recent statement:
“Thank you to DraftKings and FanDuel for stepping up to the plate in an incredible way to kick off our amendment process that stands to help all Floridians. Our amendment will direct hundreds of millions of additional dollars toward Florida’s Educational Enhancement Trust Fund and open up the market for online sports betting to competition.”
The $20 million that was donated by the two biggest sportsbooks in the legal US market accounts for all of the funding behind this PAC. There is a current effort among state lawmakers to make it harder to pass constitutional amendments through a ballot referendum voting process.
The proposed change in the law would place a $3000 limit on any contributions to political committees. Critics of this law point out that if would become impossible to collect the required petition signatures with those low contribution limits in place.
Passed in the spring by Republican state lawmakers, SB 1890 was slated to take effect on July 1. The law has been blocked by US District Judge Allen Winsor. He has stated that the law has major issues in light of First Amendment rights.
The new state amendment being pushed by the Florida Education Champions PAC would legalize sports betting at professional sports venues, pari-mutuel horse racing facilities and online through state-wide betting platforms such as FanDuel and DraftKings.
The revenue from this industry would be taxed with the proceeds earmarked for the state Educational Enhancement Trust Fund.
As vice president of government affairs for FanDuel, Cory Fox added the following insight on the heels of his company’s $10 million contribution on June 24:
“It is our shared goal to have a safe, legal and regulated market for offering online sports betting in the Sunshine State. Once passed by Florida voters in November 2022, this initiative will ensure that the State of Florida shares in the sports wagering revenue that is currently going entirely to the offshore, illegal market.”
The new compact would put the Seminole Tribe in control of legal sports betting across the state, including an online betting platform. In return, the Seminoles have pledged to make payments of $2.5 billion back to the state over a five-year period. Funds would continue to be paid after that time frame based on revenue.
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