DraftKings and FanDuel donated a combined $20 million to efforts to legalize sports betting in Florida on a broad scale
Earlier this year, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a deal that will allow the Seminole Tribe to take sports wagers at their casino properties around the state
New ballot initiative would open up the state to more operators and online sports betting
As is the case with New York, Florida has always been seen as a potential goldmine for the sports betting industry. With one of the biggest populations in the United States, Florida could easily become an industry leader once sports betting is legalized on a broad scale.
Governor Ron DeSantis recently put pen to paper on a controversial deal that will allow the local Seminole Tribe to offer legalized sports betting on their casino properties, but many within the industry are hoping the Sunshine State will open its doors to a much bigger sports betting landscape in the near future.
Last month, two of the biggest names in the sports betting space invested a significant amount of money in an attempt to push broader legalization measures. DraftKings and FanDuel, who have both been in the sports betting game since the US Supreme Court struck down the federal sports betting ban in 2018, have each contributed $10 million to the Florida Education Champions political committee. The donations are visible on Florida’s Division of Elections website.
That committee has already filed a proposed constitutional amendment in an attempt to push for the legalization of sports betting, a move that is a direct challenge to DeSantis’ aforementioned deal with the Seminole Tribe.
DK, FD Supporting Legalization Efforts
David Johnson, the chairman of the committee, issued a statement that said, “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.”
Earlier this spring, Republican lawmakers in the state passed a law that places a strict limit on the amount of money political committees may accept in donations. With the limit set at $3,000, political committees will have a much more difficult time spending money in order to collect signatures for ballot initiatives. As a result, the new law will make it much more difficult for the state to pass constitutional amendments.
DraftKings, FanDuel place $10M bets in backing Florida ballot initiative on gambling. https://t.co/0E42Jqb7Vr
— Miami Herald (@MiamiHerald) July 13, 2021
DraftKings and FanDuel made their combined $20 million in donations a week before that new limit went into effect on July 1. However, the law was blocked by US District Judge Allen Winsor, who ruled that the new limit goes against First Amendment rights.
The measure that is being supported by DraftKings and FanDuel would expand Florida’s legal sports betting industry to sporting venues, pari-mutuel facilities, and statewide online platforms. As of now, the Seminole Tribe is the only tribe that has been given the green light to accept sports wagers. The state has invited other Native American tribes to negotiate similar deals, but no further pacts have been struck as of yet. The US Department of the Interior still has to approve of the deal before it can officially go into effect.
Under the amendment, the tax dollars generated by the state via sports betting would go into Florida’s Educational Enhancement Trust Fund. FanDuel and other supporters of the measure are hoping it will appear on the state’s ballot in November of 2022 for voter approval. The proposal would also undo the aforementioned agreement between Florida and the Seminole Tribe that essentially gives the tribe a monopoly on the industry.
Seminole Tribe Blasts Donations
In exchange for the exclusive rights to accept sports bets, the Seminole Tribe has pledged to pay $2.5 billion to the state over the course of the next five years. The tribe would still be allowed to accept sports bets under the new proposal, but more operators would be allowed into the industry. The amendment would also decrease the amount of money owed by the Seminoles to the state.
In news that should surprise nobody, the news of the massive donations didn’t sit well with the Seminoles. Tribe spokesman Gary Bitner said, “This is millions of out-of-state corporate dollars to try and manipulate the people of Florida, who are smarter than that. They think they can buy their way into the state. Our team intends to use our Florida dollars to protect the interests of the people of Florida.”