It appears that Florida is already on a path towards sports betting, but some operators have come up with an insurance policy. According to reports, some sites are hoping that the voters in Florida will approve mobile sports betting on the ballot in November 2022.
This question would have to be asked as an amendment to the Florida constitution, and this referendum has been sent to the Secretary of State. Sites such as DraftKings, Fanduel, and William Hill are behind this proposal, but it will also have to be approved by lawmakers.
Currently, the U.S. Department of Interior is looking over a new gaming compact between the Sunshine State and the Seminole Tribe. Sports betting is included in this new compact, and a question on the ballot would not be needed if this was approved.
Governor Ron DeSantis has been working with the Seminole Tribe on a new gaming compact for months, and one was approved by lawmakers in Florida. This was done without approval from voters, and some believe that it was done illegally.
Experts Expect Approval
Despite the threat that this gaming compact was not negotiated in good faith, most legal experts believe that it will ultimately be approved by the U.S. Department of Interior. When Amendment 3 was approved in 2018 in Florida, it limited the potential for gaming expansion, except for on tribal lands.
DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe argue that because the online servers would be placed on tribal land that this is technically not a violation of Amendment 3. The Seminole Tribe would have complete control over sports betting, and that also worries residents and lawmakers in Florida.
The federal government has been busy reviewing similar gaming compacts from other states and has routinely given the stamp of approval.
Sportsbooks Want Control
Not only are sportsbooks looking to have a backup plan if the new compact is not approved, but they are also looking to have more control. If voters in Florida approved this new referendum, then online betting sites would be able to operate without the Seminole Tribe.
Under the new gaming compact, the Seminoles do have to allow for other sites to launch sports betting, but a portion of that revenue comes back to the tribe. Sites such as DraftKings and FanDuel will likely gain access to the state, but it won’t be on their own terms.
Democrats Fighting Back
Governor Ron DeSantis is a Republican, and he is emerging as a potential candidate of the GOP in the upcoming 2024 Presidential Election. DeSantis is also up for re-election in Florida next year, and the Democrat Party is using sports betting as a political campaign.
The approval of the new gaming compacts did not have bipartisan support, and there has been a threat of lawsuits since it was approved. Most of the opposition comes from the Democratic Party.