It appears a Florida sports betting petition championed by DraftKings and FanDuel is going to fail to garner enough signatures to qualify for the 2022 ballot.
The initiative, dubbed “Florida Education Champions,” sought to diversify the state’s future sports betting launch — beyond the compact signed with the Seminole Tribe that allowed their Hard Rock Digital platform to be the lone mobile sportsbook in the state.
The Florida Education Champions ballot drive generated less than 500,000 signatures just a few days before the Feb. 1 deadline. The drive needed to get more than 891,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot.
The pair of daily fantasy sports stalwarts spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $37 million sponsoring the failed ballot initiative.
In a statement released Friday, Florida Education Champions spokesperson Christina Johnson acknowledged the ballot drive will fail to reach the number of signatures needed to qualify for the upcoming ballot, saying the organization is weighing its options for future challenges.
"We are extremely encouraged by the level of support we saw from the more than one million Floridians who signed our petition and thank them for their efforts in wanting to bring safe and legal sports betting to Florida, while funding public education,” the statement said. “While pursuing our mission to add sports betting to the ballot we ran into some serious challenges, but most of all the COVID surge decimated our operations and ability to collect in-person signatures.
“We want to thank our local Supervisors of Elections and staff members for their diligent work in verifying petitions. We will be considering all options in the months ahead to ensure that Floridians have the opportunity to bring safe and legal sports betting to the state, along with hundreds of millions of dollars annually to support public education."
What Friday’s Announcement Means
The immediate future for Florida’s sports betting market is murky, with the U.S. Department of the Interior appealing a district court’s decision to invalidate the state’s gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe and no other ballot initiatives qualifying for the 2022 election cycle.
The tribe launched its sports betting operation Nov. 1, without advance notice, giving Floridians the opportunity to bet on live action via their Hard Rock Sportsbook app.
Those sports betting activities were quickly quelled, after a pair of lawsuits, including West Flagler Associates’ suit over the compact signed with the Seminole Tribe.
Another ballot initiative spearheaded by Las Vegas Sands Corp. has received more than 624,000 of the 891,589 required signatures needed to qualify for the next ballot, but only has until Monday to hit that mark.
The Sands initiative allows businesses with active cardroom licenses to provide casino gambling if they are at least 130 miles as the crow flies from the seven Seminole Tribe casinos. Those operators would also have to spend at least $250 million in capital investments, including new development and construction costs of any gaming complexes that are built, within three years of the start of casino gaming operations.
For now, sports betting enthusiasts in Florida must sit back and wait for a solution to be worked out among the power brokers on the state and federal level.