Operators seeking a chance to get into the Florida sports betting market without having to work with the Seminole Tribe have filed a proposed ballot initiative for statewide mobile wagering, multiple industry sources confirmed to Sports Handle Wednesday morning. The initiative, which would go on the November 2022 ballot, would permit the Seminole Tribe and others to offer online wagering. Sources say DraftKings and FanDuel are behind the proposal.
The initiative has already been filed, and the expectation is that it will be accepted and posted by the Florida Secretary of State on Wednesday. One industry source said interested parties (read: DraftKings and FanDuel) have already contributed a “significant amount” to the initiative campaign, and that information will become public in mid-July, when official funding reports are filed.
Florida lawmakers on May 19 legalized sports betting during a special session when they approved a tribal-state compact between the Seminoles and Gov. Ron DeSantis. The pact, which many stakeholders believe will be subject to legal challenges going forward, was sent to the U.S. Department of the Interior for federal approval. The pact was sent to Interior on May 26, and the agency has up to 45 days to approve it. From there, the pact would need to be published in the Federal Register, a process that can take up to 90 days.
Unclear if tribal-state pact will be approved
Anti-casino group seeks to stop #Florida deal with Seminole Tribe
— Focus Gaming News (@FocusGamingNews) June 23, 2021
It’s unclear if the Department of the Interior will approve the pact, multiple sources have said. The pact essentially gives the Seminole Tribe, owner of the Hard Rock Casino, a monopoly on sports betting and would allow for wagers to be made off reservation, via mobile devices, and at parimutuel facilities throughout the state.
On Wednesday morning, Florida political insiders received an update reading “Look for the Division of Elections to post the newest 2022 ballot item today. Hey, sports fans, any bets on what we’ll see next November? Safe to say the ballot amendment will please both gaming interests and education advocates.”
In order for an initiative to get on the ballot in Florida, backers must collect 8% of “the number of the voters voting in the last presidential election,” according to the most recent Florida Initiative Petition Guide, which was published in 2018. That year, 766,200 signatures were needed. In 2020, 10,965,776 voters voted. Ballot initiatives need 60% voter approval to pass.
As of noon ET on Wednesday, the initiative was not listed on the Division of Elections website.