With a month left to go, a campaign to let voters decide whether to legalize sports betting in Florida remains well short of the required signatures, but organizers insist they’re making enough progress to capture the required minimum.
Florida Education Champions, the campaign pushing an amendment of Florida’s Constitution to allow legal wagers, only possesses about 240,000 of the 891,589 validated petition signatures it will need by Feb. 1 for a referendum to make it onto the 2022 general election ballot in November.
More signatures coming
Campaign spokeswoman Christina Johnson told reporters recently that those numbers only represent what’s been validated in the state’s 67 local elections offices, hinting that many more than that have been collected, but not yet validated.
“We are confident we will have enough signatures to meet the Feb. 1, 2022, deadline,” Johnson said in a prepared statement, Florida Phoenix reported. “They are working diligently to validate large quantities of petitions already in their offices,” Johnson said of Florida’s elections offices.
Those offices must check petition signatures against voter roles to ensure they come from registered Florida voters.
Initiative 21-13 would authorize online and on-site sports betting across the state at sports venues and pari-mutuel facilities.
The tangled web of Florida sports betting
The move comes after a controversial compact between the state and the Seminole Tribe of Florida last year permitted the tribe to operate mobile sports betting.
A US district judge ruled last November that Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act by allowing sports betting to occur throughout the state rather than just on tribal lands. Haaland argued that sports betting should be allowed as long as servers located on tribal territory process the bets, but the judge’s ruling stopped the mobile sports betting plan while the case is appealed.
DraftKings and FanDuel are helping bankroll the new initiative, with the two donating more than $37 million toward the effort.
The Center Square reported that the Seminole Tribe has given $10 million to the committee Voters in Control, which passed that money onto Standing Up for Florida. The latter registered to oppose the sports betting initiative, and a second initiative to expand casinos in the state. The Seminoles oppose Initiative 21-13 because they wouldn’t control the sports betting market under its language.