DraftKings, FanDuel Spend Millions On Florida Sports Betting Referendum

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Big money has begun pouring into Florida politics for a potential statewide referendum on sports betting that is at least 16 months away.

According to new documents available Monday on the state Board of Elections campaign finance disclosure page, DraftKings and FanDuel each donated $10 million to Florida Education Champions. The curiously named group, which pledges to donate sports betting profits to help Florida’s education needs, is behind the effort to put the Florida sports betting measure on the ballot.

“Thank you to DraftKings and FanDuel for stepping up to the plate in an incredible way to kick off our amendment process that stands to help all Floridians. Our amendment will direct hundreds of millions of additional dollars toward Florida’s Educational Enhancement Trust Fund and open up the market for online sports betting to competition,” David Johnson, chairman of Florida Education Champions, said in a statement.

Cory Fox, vice president of government affairs for FanDuel, is optimistic about their chances to pass.

“It is our shared goal to have a safe, legal and regulated market for offering online sports betting in the Sunshine State. Once passed by Florida voters in November 2022, this initiative will ensure that the State of Florida shares in the sports wagering revenue that is currently going entirely to the offshore, illegal market,” he said in a statement.

Details On Sports Betting Referendum

Last month, in a move that took some by surprise, the sportsbooks filed paperwork to bring the referendum before Florida voters in 2022. In order to get the measure on the ballot, they must collect nearly 900,000 signatures from residents.  

If approved, the referendum would allow:

  • Sports betting at a tax rate to be determined by the legislature, all tax proceeds go toward education;
  • No betting by anyone under the age of 21;
  • Allows for sportsbooks through companies with a presence in at least 10 other states as well as Native American tribes who have an existing compact with the state of Florida;
  • Sports bets on Olympic, professional, and collegiate events would be legal.

More Big Money Coming Into Florida On Sports Betting

The Miami Herald reported that the Las Vegas Sand Corporation also put forward $17 million for the referendum effort. The paper described the group a “surprise player” and noted the organization is trying to get a footprint in the Florida market.

But it’s not just supporters that are putting their money where their mouths are.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida is opposed to the referendum. It has donated $10 million toward the Voters In Control group, which the Miami Herald described as an anti-referendum organization.

After years of negotiations, the tribe reached a deal with the state, known as a compact, in late May.  It now stands before the Department of Interior for approval.  Deb Haaland, the Secretary of Interior, is a member of the Laguna Pueblo and the first Native American to serve in a presidential administration.  

While Haaland is expected to approve the measure, it still faces potential legal hurdles.  Last week, a Miami-based group filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida arguing the compact violates the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

 

About the Author

Mary M. Shaffrey

Mary Shaffrey is an award-winning journalist who co-authored "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Government." She has spent more than 20 years covering government, both at the state and federal level. As a fan of the Baltimore Orioles and the Providence College Friars she feels cursed. Luckily she is a hockey mom too so her spirits aren't totally shot.

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