The debate over the future of legalized sports betting in Florida is far from over. As the Seminole Tribe of Florida watches its compact crumble, sportsbooks are taking advantage of the chaos to try to come around from the flank and find a path for them to claim victory. FanDuel and DraftKings have contributed significantly to political committees, gambling that their investments will pay off.
FanDuel, DraftKings Open the Wallets in Florida
FanDuel contributed $4.38 Million in November to the Florida Education Champions (FEC). The political committee is working to legalize sports betting in Florida by introducing a constitutional amendment.
The Seminole gaming compact has been shut down. Hard Rock’s betting app is also being shut down. However, other sportsbooks view the winter months as an opportunity to meet their petition goals.
The FEC wants to expand online gambling beyond the Seminole compact. If it happens, it will generate $350 million in state and local tax revenue each year through sports betting, according to the group. $247 million would go to the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund of the Florida Department of Education.
FanDuel and DraftKings are the FEC’s main contributors. They want to get on the November 2022 ballot a measure to allow sports and event betting at professional venues, pari-mutuel facilities and statewide via online betting platforms.
According to a new report, FanDuel has contributed a total of $14.38 million, while DraftKings added $22.71 million.
FEC Spends Big on Advertising
The FEC is on the offensive with new advertisements seeking petition signatures. They would need 900,000 to include their provision in voter ballots next year.
One ad promotes, “It’s official. We are now the only game in town when it comes to legalizing online sports betting in our state, with all revenue going to supplement public education funding. Our initiative provides a competitive sports betting marketplace in the state of Florida.”
FEC currently has 172,000 signatures, according to Florida Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee. However, representatives claim that they have many more unverified signatures.
In November, a US District Court judge ruled that the Seminole Compact was invalid. This effectively ended a temporary gambling monopoly by the tribe in Florida. The ruling was heavily based on where bets would take place. The tribe was going to allow online wagers off tribal land, which has met with blowback from local and federal figures.
US Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland spoke on behalf of the Seminole Tribe. She emphasized the compact’s requirement that online betting bets be placed only at the place where the tribe’s computers servers are located. This, she asserted, meant that the wagers were not technically taking place off the land.
District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich disagreed. She said, “Although the Compact ‘deems’ all sports betting to occur at the location of the Tribe’s ‘sportsbooks’ and supporting servers, this Court cannot accept that fiction.”