DraftKings and FanDuel make push for Florida online sports betting ballot initiative
Two sportsbook operating titans are looking to shake up Florida’s online sports betting future for good.
DraftKings and FanDuel are behind a filed 2022 Florida ballot initiative to allow online sports betting throughout the sunshine state. If approved by state officials, it would allow voters the chance to decide the fate of statewide Florida online sports betting in the 2022 general election, according to Florida Politics.
“I think they (Florida voters) overwhelmingly support sports betting. I think what’s going to be very interesting is how the tribes counter this,” Senator Jeffrey Brandes (R-26), a proponent of sports betting, told Saturday Down South.
As of Thursday morning the Florida Division of Elections had not yet listed the initiative on its website.
Opening up Florida sports betting for operators
The ballot measure, if approved by voters, would circumvent the approved 30-year gaming compact between Florida and the Seminole Tribe. The compact gives exclusive rights for all sports wagering to Seminole Tribe controlled sportsbooks, or qualified parimutuel permitholders to offer sports betting at their facilities.
The legality of online sports betting is still a concern for operators as the U.S. Department of the Interior reviews the deal. As written gaming compact allows for the Seminole Tribe to offer online sports betting through a “hub-and-spoke” program for qualified parimutuels and online sportsbook operators. However, throughout the process a number of representatives warned that the gaming compact may not fully pass the federal review.
It has been a cause for unease throughout the proceedings for operators such as DraftKings and FanDuel, as there may be a chance the U.S. Department of the Interior declares the online sports betting component as illegal. Online sports betting could be left out of the gaming compact for good and effectively shut out third-party online sportsbook operators.
Signatures and voter approval still needed
This ballot initiative would circumvent the gaming compact entirely and open up Florida to all online sportsbook operators if first accepted by the Florida Division of Elections. Several hundred thousand valid signatures will be required for the initiative to be placed on the 2022 general election ballot.
Brandes said he was looking forward to discussing the ballot initiative with his fellow legislators.
“I’m looking forward to discussion as the initiative gets filed with legislators who supported the compact. It will be interesting to see if they support expanding sports betting beyond the compact to the private market. Generally, Republicans should be for free and open markets, and we’ll see if that holds true when it comes to sports betting,” he told Saturday Down South.