It’s information overload everywhere, and there’s not time enough to sleep and eat and stay fully apprised of what’s happening on this crazy blue dot of ours (two out of three ain’t bad). Here’s the weekend Sports Handle item, “Get a Grip,” recapping the week’s top U.S. sports betting stories, highlighting some fresh news, and rounding up key stories. Also check out this week’s Wild World of Gambling at US Bets.
DraftKings and FanDuel are Florida’s ‘champions’
It won’t be an easy lift, but the contest has officially started: DraftKings and FanDuel will be racing to collect nearly a million signatures in order to secure a ballot initiative that would break open the Florida mobile sports betting marketplace that, as currently and tentatively constituted, would be a Seminole Tribe monopoly.
As first reported by Sports Handle on Wednesday and further buttressed by a review of the draft copy of the initiative on Thursday, the Florida Secretary of State website has now published the proposed constitutional amendment, which bears the Serial Number 21-13.
The PAC was registered on June 2 and is chaired by David Johnson, a Republican political consultant. Johnson’s wife Christina, president of On 3 Public Relations, is serving as the group’s spokesperson.
“Yes, those entities [DraftKings and FanDuel] are going to be supportive of this effort,” said Christina Johnson, acknowledging that they are driving the campaign to amend the state Constitution.
Further in a statement published by the Florida Phoenix, she added, “The Florida Education Champions committee is comprised of like-minded individuals invested in increasing public education funding, without raising taxes, in Florida, by expanding sports betting in the state. The committee will be actively fundraising, targeting donors who support our mission to get this pro-education ballot amendment before the voters in November 2022.”
Jill Dorson has the scoop on sports betting legalization in Florida!
— US Bets (@US_Bets) June 25, 2021
In a statement to Florida Politics, the group has indicated that it will waste no time in securing the 222,898 votes it will need to meet the judicial and financial impact review threshold, as it climbs uphill to the 891,589 needed (8 percent of the votes cast in the 2020 presidential election) to make the November 2022 ballot.
“The Florida Division of Elections just approved the committee’s request to be assigned an official serial number for ballot placement, so we may immediately begin the petition collection process and thereby initiate efforts to generate substantial revenue that can be directed to Florida’s public education system — without raising taxes.”
Indeed, the sports betting (err, education) champions will go toe-to-toe here with the well-funded Seminole Tribe of Florida, which is currently awaiting approval of its newly executed tribal-state compact that Gov. Ron DeSantis brokered.
The compact and the accompanying enabling legislation that arrived during the legislature’s special session in May effectively gives the Seminoles a monopoly on sports betting, or at least any other entity participating will do so on its terms, on its servers, and for a price. The U.S. Department of the Interior, which oversees Indian Gaming affairs, is currently reviewing the compact and considering whether it comports with federal law, namely the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1987.
Before the PAC collected a single signature, on Thursday, the Seminole Tribe via spokesperson Gary Bitner issued the following statement to Sports Handle:
This is a political Hail Mary from out-of-state corporations trying to interfere with the business of the people of Florida. They couldn’t stop Florida’s new Gaming Compact, which passed by an overwhelming 88 percent “yes” vote from Florida’s elected legislators and enjoys 3-1 support from Floridians and guarantees $2.5 billion in revenue sharing. The guarantee is the largest commitment by any gaming company in U.S. history.
Perhaps the effort is somewhere between a Hail Mary and a playoff game two-minute drill with no timeouts. The stakes will ratchet up higher once the Department of the Interior weighs in. If it rejects the compact, the mobile betting portion may be severed, which still gives the Seminoles some welcome hotel-casino additions such as more banked casino games, the ability to construct a new casino property, plus the right to offer sports betting on premises.
While other online sports betting operators certainly stand the benefit from nationwide market-share leaders DK and FD, that tandem isn’t giving everyone a free ride: the ballot initiative contains a clause that would limit (at least for the first 20 months) eligible online sportsbooks in the state to those already operating in least 10 U.S. jurisdictions already. Currently that class includes only the two leading the charge, plus William Hill and BetMGM.
More of the top stories from our network
The 7,000-square foot space will have betting windows, kiosks, and more.https://t.co/6QHLLiC5UG
— Sports Handle (@sports_handle) June 24, 2021
Feature story of the week:
Washington market taking shape
As Washington State regulators continue developing sports betting rules, just who will be in the market is beginning to become clear. While the state legalized tribal-only, retail-only wagering, major operators clearly want to get a foothold. So far, BetFred, BetMGM, Caesars (through American Wagering), and Rush Street Interactive have filed “pre-licensing investigation applications” ahead of the actual application process.
Washington State has 29 tribal casinos, and so far, 15 of the tribes that run casinos have signed new compacts to include sports betting with the state.
Also on the list of those filling out pre-licensing packets are suppliers and vendors including geofencing company GeoComply, data provider Sportradar, platform providers IGT and Scientific Games, and integrity monitoring shop U.S. Integrity.
The WSGC next meets July 8, and it opened its draft rules for public comment on June 23.
— Jill R. Dorson
First phase of Wyoming rules near completion
The Wyoming Gaming Commission on Wednesday filed a “Notice of Intent to Adopt Rules” for its new sports betting regulations. The commission, which has held several stakeholder meetings on the proposed rules, is set to approve the rules at its July 9 regular meeting. Wyoming lawmakers and regulators have been pointing to a football-season launch of operators.
The first package of proposed rules does not include the application process, but regulators say they will do their best to streamline that process for operators.
Wyoming lawmakers legalized sports betting on April 5. Should the state be able to launch operators by the first day of the NFL season, Sept. 9, it would mark only the third time a state has been able to go from legal to live in about five months or less. For comparison, it took Tennessee regulators nearly 16 months from legal to live.
— Jill R. Dorson
Two picked for MD sports wagering commission
Maryland House Speaker Adrienne Jones appointed two members to a new state panel on sports betting Wednesday, ahead of the July 15 Maryland Lottery and Gaming Commission meeting when draft regulations on sports wagering could be rolled out.
Jones filled two spots on the seven-member Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) when she appointed Cassandra Stevenson and Frank Turner to the panel. Stevenson, a graduate of Morgan State University in Baltimore, currently serves as senior vice president for Corporate Tax at Raymond James. Turner, a longtime member of the Maryland House of Delegates, did not seek re-election in 2018. The six-term delegate is responsible for championing several gaming-related bills during his tenure, including the legalization of Maryland casinos in 2007.
The commission is in charge of approving sports wagering licensees in the coming months, while ensuring fairness in reviewing the applications of female-owned and minority owned businesses, according to the state’s gaming regulatory agency.
— Matt Rybaltowski
More of the most important, interesting stories
Internet gambling operator 888 Holdings has obtained exclusive rights to the Sports Illustrated brand for sports and casino wagers online https://t.co/LoVdmfTySv
— Bloomberg (@business) June 24, 2021
New Hampshire lawmakers have reached an agreement on legislation that will permit in-play sports betting at retail sportsbook locations operated by DraftKings on behalf of the state lottery. @GamblingComp https://t.co/yFgjWU3liv pic.twitter.com/YJX7a24VcS
— Chris Sieroty (@sierotyfeatures) June 21, 2021
MAKING PROGRESS: SD regulators prepare to adopt sports betting regulations. [Keloland]
AHEAD OF THE GAME: Sports betting not yet legal in Kansas, but Bally’s partners with Boot Hill Casino [iGB]
CONFERENCE CALL: ACC eyeing potential impact of legalized sports gambling [Richmond Times Dispatch]
ENTIRELY FORESEEABLE: D.C. Council stunned at GamBetDC’s shockingly low revenue. [WTOP]
EYES ON 2022: North Bay tribes in California back sports betting initiative [Press Dem]
NAME, LIKENESS AND IMAGE: SCOTUS rules against NCAA on compensation [ESPN]
CAPITAL: Sporttrade Inc. raises $36 million to fuel its betting exchange platform [PRN]
INVESTMENT: JP Morgan buys a stake in Robert Kraft’s data company [WSJ]
MLB getting what it deserves … https://t.co/n9NRl5ywri
— Jeff Blair (@SNJeffBlair) June 23, 2021