TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A newly-launched citizen initiative aims to legalize sports betting in Florida, but opponents of the initiative are already coming forward.
The sports betting initiative would legalize sports betting at parimutuel facilities and on online sports betting platforms, including those run by national companies like Draft Kings and Fan Duel.
“We see this as a win for Floridians,” said Christina Johnson with Florida Education Champions, the group backing the initiative.
Johnson explained the tax revenue would have to be used to boost education funding, similar to the way the Florida Lottery is structured.
“We know it’s in the millions of dollars because other states have done the same,” said Johnson.
The initiative has already drawn opponents, with a spokesperson for Seminole Gaming calling it a “Political Hail Mary from out-of-state corporations trying to interfere with the business of the people of Florida.”
During the special session to approve the new gaming compact, lawmakers were warned the state could loose $50 million a year from the tribe.
“The tribe would stop paying, but only on sports betting, because in that scenario the tribe would no longer have exclusivity for sports betting,” said Tribe Attorney Joseph Webster in a May House committee hearing.
The initiative is just getting off the ground and has a long way to go before making the 2022 ballot.
Supreme Court approval and nearly 900,000 signatures still stand in the way.
Wasting little time, Florida Education Champions has already launched a website where petitions can be requested.
“Simply get it, sign it, date it, mail it back to us and we’ll begin the verification process,” said Johnson.
One thing the initiative does have going for it, is that unlike the Seminole Gaming Compact, if the initiative is passed it would automatically satisfy the requirement that any gaming expansion be approved by voters.
Sixty percent of voters would have to approve the sports betting initiative for it to become part of the state constitution.