Florida Sports Betting Initiative Sets High Bar for Operators

Florida Sports Betting Initiative Sets High Bar for Operators
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Voters would be asked to allow mobile sports betting in FL statewide at professional sports venues and parimutuel facilities under a proposed 2022 constitutional amendment backed by major sportsbook operators.

If passed, only those companies that have been licensed to operated legal sports wagering in at least 10 other states for at least one calendar year would be allowed sports betting skins in Florida, along with any Native American tribes that have a gambling compact with the state.

The proposed constitutional amendment is sponsored by a political action committee called “Florida Education Champions.” Any revenues derived by the state from sports betting would be used for the state’s Educational Enhancement Trust Fund.

RELATED: Florida Voters Could See 2022 Sports Betting Ballot Initiative

In May, the Florida Legislature passed a 75-page gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida that would allow sports betting in Florida and online sports betting run through servers on Indian land. The compact, signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Tribe, was submitted to the Department of Interior (through the National Indian Gaming Association) on May 26. The federal government has 45 days to approve or reject the deal. If no action is taken, the compact becomes binding.

Amendment Needs 60% of Vote

This proposed amendment, if passed by the required 60% of Florida voters, could allow sports betting entities such as FanDuel Sportsbook, DraftKings Sportsbook, PointsBet, William Hill and BetMGM to operate freely without any ties to the Tribe. The amendment would allow other operators into the state 20 months after its effective date.

Those over 21 in Florida would be allowed to bet on professional, amateur, collegiate, Olympic, international athletic contests and sanctioned motor racing events under the proposal.

The gaming compact signed by the state and the Seminole Tribe only allows sportsbook operators to get a piece of the action in Florida by managing sports betting entities either owned by the Tribe or current parimutuel license holders.

The compact does not allow sportsbook operators to run their own sites.

Details of the Sports Betting Initiative

Here is how the amendment would appear on the ballot: “Authorizes sports and event betting under Florida law at professional sports venues and pari-mutuel facilities and statewide via online sports betting platforms by entities authorized to conduct online sports betting, and by Native American tribes with a Florida gaming compact, only for persons age 21 years or older. Requires legislative action to regulate sports betting. The legislature may tax betting revenues, and all such taxes are required to supplement the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund.”

Florida voters passed Amendment 3 in 2018 with 71% of the vote. That mandated any new gambling in Florida not on Indian land be approved by 60% of the voters. The Seminole Tribe was a primary sponsor of that amendment and has argued the compact does not violate it because of the placement of the servers on their lands.

How a state issue such as Amendment 3 would affect federal approval on the compact is unknown. Multiple lawsuits are expected that would curb the addition of online sports betting. Under the compact, bettors would be allowed to place bets at Tribal casinos, online statewide or brick-and-mortar sites run by parimutuel stakeholders. The Tribe is mandated through the compact to approve at least three skins for those license holders and would be hit with a penalty if they do not.

There 30 other initiatives and amendments proposed for the 2022 November election currently listed on the Florida of Divisions website. According to the FDOE, 891,589 valid signatures are required to get any initiative petition on the 2022 ballot. And those signatures must come from at least 14 of Florida’s 27 congressional districts.

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