FanDuel, DraftKings Contribute $20M For Florida Sports Betting Initiative

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FanDuel and DraftKings each contributed $10 million into an effort to legalize sports betting in Florida, according to a new report from the state election website.

Both operators – the two leading giants in the space of US sports betting – contributed $20 million last month to the Florida Education Champions, a political committee formed in June. FanDuel and DraftKings’ combined initiative of cash infusion is meant to bring regulated sports betting in the Sunshine State and reimburse the state’s proceeds from the activity to education, according to the state Division of Election website.

Florida Education Champions is a joint effort of the two giant operators aimed at expanding sports betting through a constitutional amendment in 2022 while campaigning that funds generated through sports betting be directed toward education.

In May, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a gaming compact, allowing the Seminole Tribe to have exclusive sports betting rights in the state. The US Department of the Interior may or may not approve the 30-year compact, which was challenged last week in a federal court. A lawsuit was expected ever since the governor signed the new sports betting law.

What Has the Committee Done So Far?

The Florida Education Champions filed a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize sports betting in a move that could unravel a “historic” gaming pact signed by the governor and the tribe in late April. The renegotiated agreement – with a potential to bring $2.5 billion revenue – was approved during a special legislative session in May.

Under the new compact, the Seminoles were to pay $2.5 billion in payments to the state over the next five years in exchange for the exclusive sports betting rights, including online betting, in the Sunshine State.

Why FanDuel, DraftKings Backing a Statewide Ballot?

Griffin Finan, the VP of government affairs at DraftKings said the company provided Florida Education Champions with critical funding to ensure that state residents have the opportunity to vote on a sports betting framework that would give them access to the best legal experience while increasing funding for Florida’s public education system.

However, Cory Fox – Finan’s counterpart at FanDuel – said it is a shared goal to bring a safe and regulated market for providing mobile sports betting in Florida. He said that the initiative – if passed – would ensure that the Sunshine State shares in the sports betting revenue that is currently draining to the offshore, illegal market.

While thanking FanDuel and DraftKings for their role in the amendment process, the chairman of the political committee, David Johnson, said: “Our amendment will direct hundreds of millions of additional dollars toward the state’s Educational Enhancement Trust Fund and open up the market for mobile sports betting competition.”

Will FanDuel-DraftKings Initiative Succeed Amid Seminoles’ Opposition?

The political action committee (PAC) is currently seeking signatures on a petition for the referendum question on a site featuring school children. The Seminole Tribe opposes the amendment that would take away exclusive sports betting from their hands.

Seminole Gaming spokesperson Gary Bitner said Monday, “This is millions of out-of-state corporate dollars to try and manipulate the Floridians, who are smarter than that.”

While alluding to the companies like FanDuel and DraftKings, Bitner said they think they can buy their way into the state. He added that Seminole Tribe intends to use Florida dollars to protect the interests of the state residents.

Will Committee Obtain Required Signatures?

It’s difficult to say at this point. The recent law would place a $3,000 limit on contributions to political committees as they collect petition signatures for ballot initiatives. The limit – which was scheduled to take effect July 1 – could make it much harder to collect the required petition signatures, though a multi-million dollar contribution was made a week prior. But a district judge blocked the law, noting it violated the First Amendment.

Constitutional amendments require 891,589 signatures to make the ballot, and must also hit signature thresholds in at least one half – or 14 – the state’s districts. If the proposed amendment makes its way to the ballot next year, it must be approved by 60% of the voters.

Meanwhile, Florida sports betting law was challenged in a federal court early this month by owners of Miami’s Magic City Casino and the Bonita Springs Poker Room. The plaintiffs said the state cannot legally allow a gaming compact, extending the tribe a statewide online sports betting. The gaming compact – which is currently under review by the US Department of the Interior – allows Seminole Tribe statewide mobile bets placed through tribal lands.

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