The enemy of my enemy is my friend, even in sports betting. Rivals FanDuel and DraftKings teamed up and submitted a Florida amendment for sports betting this past week in hopes of gaining market access in the state. The draft of the amendment to the state constitution submitted to the Florida Department of Elections would legalize sports betting and send all tax revenue to the state’s education department.
The summarized version of the amendment: Bet on whatever you want, wherever you want (in Florida).
Florida Sports Betting Amendment: All Sports, All Places
FanDuel and DraftKings submitted the proposed amendment under the name “Florida Education Champions”, a PAC registered with the state’s election department. State records show that the PAC has not received any donations, something that should change over the next year.
The bill is about as sports-betting friendly as you are going to find anywhere in the country. Limits on sports? There are none. Professional, amateur, collegiate, Olympic sports are all eligible for bets.
Limits on locations? Not at all. The amendment would allow sports betting to take place online and at retail locations throughout the state, as long as the person placing the bet is at least 21 years old.
Limits on who can run a sportsbook? Nope, but with one important caveat. The amendment would allow the Seminole Tribe of Florida to operate sports betting exclusively for the first 20 months the bill is passed. After that, pari-mutuel facilities could open up a sportsbook or launch a Florida sports betting app.
Simply put, the 20-month exclusivity clause seems to be FanDuel and DraftKings’ way of saying they know the Seminole Tribe (owners of the Hard Rock brand) wanted to have exclusive rights over sports betting, but that’s not going to happen. So, here’s a 20-month monopoly.
At the moment, the Seminole Tribe is playing hardball.
“This is a political Hail Mary from out-of-state corporations trying to interfere with the business of the people of Florida,” said Seminole Gaming spokesman Gary Bitner.
The amendment includes limits on who can operate sports betting in the state, limits that favor established sports betting operators. According to the proposed legislation, only sports betting companies that have operated in at least 10 states for at least one year are allowed to work in the state.
The final noteworthy aspect of the proposal is that it gives state lawmakers the freedom to set tax rates, but any taxes the state earns have to go directly to the Department of Education’s Educational Enhancement Trust Fund (EETF). The EETF was borne out of a series of amendments and legislation in the ‘80s that legalized a state lottery and set up a trust fund to be used for the state’s education system. According to the Department of Education, the fund provided more than $2 billion to the education system in 2019-2020, with more than 70% going toward public schools and student financial aid.
Getting an amendment passed in Florida is no easy task. Every amendment starts out as an initiative registered with the Division of Elections. The sports betting amendment would have to earn 222,898 votes to get a judicial and financial impact review. If it can clear that hurdle, the next goal is to get nearly 900,000 signatures to get on the ballot for a vote. Once on the ballot, the amendment would have to get 60% of the popular vote to become law.
How Does The Florida Sports Betting Amendment Fit Into What’s Happening Now?
The sports betting amendment comes at an interesting time in Florida. The Seminole Tribe and Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a new compact earlier this year that would allow the tribe to have exclusive rights over sports betting.
That compact is now under review with the Department of the Interior (DOI) but the review period is nearly finished. Legal experts are at odds over whether the compact will pass the DOI’s review. Among the arguments that the compact may not pass federal scrutiny is that no compact that includes online sports betting has ever made it through a DOI review.
The Seminole tribe doesn’t seem to care about precedent; they’ve moved forward with confidence, as if they believe the DOI will approve the compact.
However, the proposed amendment from DraftKings and FanDuel may hint that the two sports betting operators know something the rest of us don’t. If the DOI or subsequent legal challenges strike down the sports betting portion of the Seminole compact, DraftKings and FanDuel would be in the perfect position to offer an alternative that gives a nod to the tribe, offers wide-ranging betting opportunities, and funds the state’s education system.