Sources: Florida Online Sports Betting Ballot Measure Coming in 2022
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- More expansive online sports betting options could be coming to Florida.
- Sources confirmed to The Action Network that DraftKings and FanDuel are pushing for a ballot measure that will let voters decide in November of 2022 whether or not they want widespread online betting.
- Last month, the state's seminole tribe approved a compact that would allow retail sportsbooks and permit statewide mobile wagering that is awaiting federal approval but may not get clearance.
Florida officials could announce the framework for a 2022 statewide mobile sports betting measure as early as this week, sources confirmed with the Action Network Wednesday.
DraftKings and FanDuel are behind the proposal, which if approved by state officials would allow Florida voters to approve statewide mobile wagering via a 2022 ballot measure. Along with the two sportsbook titans, a source close to the situation said Florida education interests are “hoping to be involved in a major way.”
The Florida of Division of Elections is set to publish the ballot measure proposal as early as this week, the source said.
From there, the sportsbook operators are looking for an aggressive signature drive that assures the question goes before voters ahead of the Nov. 8, 2022 elections. The initiative’s proponents will need to collect roughly 900,000 valid signatures statewide for the question to appear on the ballot.
All Florida ballot initiatives require 60% voter approval. Notably, Florida approved a 2018 measure that prohibits the legislature from enacting casino gaming expansion legislation without subsequent voter approval.
That measure was funded mostly through Disney, which has long opposed casino gaming, as well as the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which operates seven casinos in the Suns-hine State. Disney owns part of DraftKings and has multiple sports betting partnerships through its ESPN networks.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state’s Seminole Tribe in April announced a compact that would allow retail sportsbooks on tribal lands and also permit statewide mobile wagering but is awaiting federal approval. Legal analysts believe the compact’s online sports betting components run afoul federal law and will not be permitted.
As written now, the compact permits the tribe to operate statewide mobile wagering through its Hard Rock Digital sportsbook app. The compact also permits a “hub-and-spoke” revenue-sharing partnership between the tribe, state pari-mutuel betting facilities and third-party sportsbook operators, but that too may not earn federal approval.
Seminole Hard Rock officials said earlier in the year that DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, Barstool Sportsbook and all other major operators had reached out about possible partnerships with the tribe and pari-mutuel facilities. However, any deal would require a revenue split with the tribe and would be subject to the Seminole’s approval.
Though the operator-backed ballot measure details have not been released publicly as of Wednesday afternoon, the initiative would almost assuredly give the sportsbooks better terms.
It remains to be seen how the Seminoles, who would have de facto control over any sports betting under the compact, will respond to the ballot measure. The tribe invested millions in ads supporting the 2018 gaming restriction measure as well as a campaign to back the 2021 compact.
Anti-gambling group No Casinos lobbied against the Seminole gaming compact and has opposed any new gaming expansion without voter approval in the state. It wasn’t initially clear what role it or other anti-gambling groups may have in the signature drive or ballot measure process.
Wednesday’s announcement alone shakes up the sports betting industry in what would be the most-populated state to approve statewide mobile wagering (California officials have already approved a 2022 ballot measure that would only permit retail betting at tribal casinos).
It remains to be seen if the measure reaches voters — or earns their approval — but it could mean a major new competitive sports betting market for a state of more than 21 million residents that draws millions more in annual tourism visits.
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