Millions of dollars flowing into Florida PACs for sports betting and gambling interests
Millions more in contributions to political action committees have been discovered, just days after DraftKings and FanDuel both contributed $10 million each to a PAC to legalize Florida sports betting.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, in addition to the DraftKings and FanDuel allowances, contributions to other casino gaming and sports betting PACs were recently made by the Seminole Tribe, the Las Vegas Sands and the owners of the Magic City Casino.
$62 million to PACs for Florida sports betting and gambling
As it stands, here are the recent contributions to PACs for the gaming industry in Florida:
- DraftKings and FanDuel: $20 million total to Florida Education Champions. The PAC supports a 2022 ballot initiative to legalize online sports betting in the state.
- Las Vegas Sands Corp: $17 million to Florida Voters in Charge. The PAC advocates for decisions on casino gaming to be made by state voters, not legislators.
- Magic City Casino: $15 million to People Against Regulatory Legislation Addressing You (PARLAY). The casino created the PAC and gave it $15 million for purposes that have yet to be determined, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
- Seminole Tribe: $10 million to Voters in Control, Inc. The PAC was created to influence gaming decisions in the 2022 election, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
In total, $62 million worth of known political contributions have been made to PACs that will attempt to influence sports betting and casino decision in the 2022 election. Sports betting and casino stakes are high for everyone involved, even as the U.S. Department of the Interior has yet to approve or deny a 30-year gaming compact between Florida and the Seminole Tribe.
Florida Education Champions is a PAC supporting a 2022 Florida ballot initiative that would give voters the opportunity to authorize sports and event betting at professional sports venues and parimutuel facilities. If approved, it would also allow Florida online sports betting through third-party operators and by Native American tribes with a gaming compact.
Tax revenue brought in through sports betting would be used to finance an Education Enhancement Trust Fund for the state.
Legal challenges ahead for Florida sports betting
The ballot initiative would circumvent the recently approved 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.
In addition to the governmental challenges, the compact is also facing a lawsuit from within the state. On Friday, July 1, West Flagler Associates, on behalf of Magic City Casino, and Bonita Springs Poker Room filed the first lawsuit challenging Florida’s tribal sports betting compact. The lawsuit contends the online sports betting component of the document violates the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, argues that online sports betting outside of tribal lands is illegal. The 30-year gaming compact contains language claiming that online sports betting off of tribal land is legal, as the bets are process through Seminole Tribe internet servers that are physically located on tribal lands. The lawsuit requests the court to prohibit sports betting from the gaming compact.