Jan 20, 2022


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An ongoing effort to bring legal sports betting to Florida now involves a petition to get the issue on this year’s November general election ballot. The group behind this latest drive is “Florida Education Champions.”

They are facing a Feb. 1 deadline to gather the necessary number of signatures to qualify for a ballot referendum. According to data from the Florida Division of Elections, close to 350,000 signatures have been gathered. However, that only adds up to 40% of the required total.

The required number of signatures is 891,589. This figure represents eight percent of the votes cast in Florida’s 2020 presidential election. Facing a tall task heading into the last two weeks of January, a few high-profile players in the legal US sports betting industry have gotten involved.

To date, Florida Education Champions has some strong financial support behind their effort. The group has collected $37.2 million in contributions. Most of those funds have been provided by DraftKings and FanDuel as the two biggest sportsbook operators in the US.

DraftKings has donated $22.7 million to the cause. The Boston-based company is also using its marketing clout to encourage Florida sports bettors to sign the petition. Anyone doing so will receive $100 in credits for use on the DraftKings’ site.

FanDuel’s level of financial support for this initiative is $14.5 million. Of the 29 other individual contributions to the group, none have exceeded $100.

On an individual basis, Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy has gotten involved. His company joined forces with Penn National Gaming a few years back to form Barstool Sportsbook. Prior to this equity partnership, Portnoy become a prominent sports media figure in his own right.

Turning to his large following of sports fans, Portnoy recently tweeted:

“Emergency Press Conference – I Am Here to Save Sports Gambling in Florida.”

He has been a strong supporter of legal sports betting in Florida for quite some time. Portnoy believes he can leverage his popularity in the state to help gain the necessary number of signatures before the impending deadline.

The proposal put forward by Florida Education Champions would amend the state constitution through a voter referendum. Sports betting would be legal at professional sports stadiums and horse racing pari-mutuel tracks and off-track racing venues.

Online sports betting would also be offered statewide through mobile sportsbook apps. If the referendum is approved, state lawmakers would still have to pass the proper legislation to govern and regulate the industry.

Tax revenue collected from sports betting would be used to support Florida’s Educational Enhancement Trust Fund.

Another aspect of this measure covers the US sportsbooks that would be eligible to operate in the state. Sportsbooks operating in 10 states or more for at least one full year would be able to enter the Florida market.

Native American tribes with a Florida gaming compact would also be eligible to offer legal sports betting. This mainly pertains to the Seminole Tribe as the biggest gaming entity in the state.

Last year, the tribe agreed to an amended gaming compact to offer both retail and online sports betting. However, that whole issue ended up in the courts due to multiple legal challenges.

Written by Dave Schwab, our US Sports Betting Industry Expert. You can learn more about our author's expertise here.

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