Florida online sports betting initiative fails to make 2022 ballot
Sorry Florida, it looks as if online sports betting may not have a chance to be legalized until at least 2024.
A Florida online sports betting initiative, backed financially by powerhouse sportsbook operators FanDuel and DraftKings, will likely not reach the required verified signature total for placement on the November 2022 general election ballot.
Florida online sports betting likely not until 2025
Another initiative will not be allowed to be attempted again until 2024, meaning online sports betting would likely not launch until 2025 if approved.
Florida Education Champions, the authors of the initiative, released a statement earlier today on the lack of necessary signatures for the February 1 deadline. The initiative needed 891,599 verified signatures to secure a place on the ballot. As of Friday, Jan. 28 at 2:30 p.m. it only had 479,193 verified signatures, according to the Florida Division of Elections.
Christina Johnson, spokesperson for Florida Education Champions, said the group was encouraged by those who signed their petition, but said challenges presented from COVID-19 made collecting in-person signatures extremely difficult.
“We are extremely encouraged by the level of support we saw from the more than one million Floridians who signed our petition and thank them for their efforts in wanting to bring safe and legal sports betting to Florida, while funding public education. While pursuing our mission to add sports betting to the ballot we ran into some serious challenges, but most of all the COVID surge decimated our operations and ability to collect in-person signatures,” Johnson said in a release.
If it had been placed on the 2022 ballot, Florida voters would have been able to approve or deny a motion to legalize sports and event betting under Florida law at professional sports venues and pari-mutuel facilities. Additionally, it would have approved online sports betting throughout the state for qualified sportsbooks and Native American tribes with a Florida gaming compact.
Sports betting tax revenues would have supplemented a state education trust fund.
The ballot initiative was financially backed by both DraftKings and FanDuel, both of which have contributed millions to the cause.
Each contributed $10 million to the initiative in June. DraftKings contributed $12.7 million in October and FanDuel contributed an additional $4.4 million total over October/November, according to the Florida Division of Elections.
What’s next for Florida sports betting?
While another ballot initiative can’t be attempted until 2024, Florida sports betting does have some options. The state and the Seminole Tribe can approve a new gaming compact and include the legalization of retail sports betting at Seminole Tribe owned casinos. This would only include the Seminole Tribe operated Hard Rock Sportsbook.
A new gaming compact would not be able to include an online sports betting component, as U.S. District Court Judge Dabney L. Friedrich ruled it ran afoul of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
However, just this week Deb Haaland, Secretary of the Interior, and the Department of the Interior filed a notice of appeal for the judge’s decision. U.S. District Court Judge Friedrich’s decision invalidated Haaland’s approval of the gaming compact, which granted Florida online sports betting and retail sports betting rights exclusively to the Seminole Tribe.
The Seminole Tribe filed its own appeal of Friedrich’s decision this past November with the U.S. Court of Appeals.
Any decision on these appeals are likely months away.