TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida could reap billions in economic impact if voters legalize sports betting statewide. That’s the big finding in a new study from the group supporting a 2022 ballot initiative to make it happen.
Florida Education Champions is seeking the amendment to create a sports-betting market outside of tribal control. The state tax revenue collected, directed toward education.
According to the political committee’s new report, Florida would see a $3.5 billion economic impact annually. The commissioned research also found state and local tax revenue would reach $350 million each year. Nearly $247 million of those dollars would be for Florida’s Educational Enhancement Trust Fund.
Further— the report by Washington Economics Group suggested the support of more than 31,100 jobs and generation of $1.24 billion in household income.
“The findings represent the significant benefits our proposed constitutional amendment will provide to Florida taxpayers, consumers, and to our public education system,” said Florida Education Champions Chairman David Johnson in a statement.
Johnson told reporters during a conference call signature collection was currently the focus. The group needs nearly 900,000 by February to qualify and have about half on hand. Verification, he said, was underway.
“We are not contemplating not making the ballot,” Johnson said. “We’re going to have the signatures. We’re on a very good track right now, and— so, we are going to be there.”
The Seminole Tribe, meanwhile, has poured more than $10 million into ads to stop the ballot initiative. They warn a change will allow “out-of-control” gambling with few guarantees.
The tribe had exclusive control of Florida sports betting since it launched its system at the beginning of the month. That is until a federal judge threw out their gaming compact with the state on Monday. US District Judge Dabney Friedrich said it was a violation of Indian gaming laws.
She wrote in her ruling: “…although the Compact ‘deem[s]’ all sports betting to occur at the location of the Tribe’s ‘sports book(s)’ and supporting servers, this Court cannot accept that fiction.”
The tribe is appealing the decision and seeking to keep the compact’s provisions in place until the process is complete. Legal experts tell us it could take a while and doubted the appellate judges would overturn the lower court’s ruling.
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