Former Florida State Football Standout Gets Keys To Run Florida Lottery

Written By JR Duren on November 6, 2020

The Florida Lottery has a new boss.

In a recent prepared statement, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced his appointment of John Davis as secretary of the state lottery.

“John has extensive experience in the public and private sectors and is involved in his community, donating his time and talents to help kids and vulnerable Floridians succeed,” DeSantis said in a statement. “His business focus and passion for student-success will serve him well as he takes over this important department.”

The assignment certainly helps fill a vacancy in the lottery. But could it also be a hire to prepare for a future push for legalized sports betting in Florida?

From Florida State to Florida Lottery

Before Davis entered politics in Florida, he enjoyed a four-year football career at Florida State University. From 1989 to 1992, he played defensive back, free safety and strong safety for the Seminoles.

As a sophomore in 1990, Davis, played eight games and snagged three interceptions.

In 1992, he started at strong safety on a Seminoles team that went undefeated in conference play in its first year in the ACC. The team went on to defeat Nebraska in the Orange Bowl.

For his career, Davis played in 33 games, grabbed five interceptions and notched 2.5 sacks.

Will his sports background help a push for sports betting?

As it stands, sports betting is not legal in the state of Florida. However, it’s not too far-fetched to imagine that the Florida Lottery would oversee the industry were it legalized. Delaware and Oregon, for example, tabbed their state lotteries to regulate sports betting.

With that in mind, Davis exhibits a formidable balance of sports acumen and political experience that may be a good fit if sports betting becomes legal in Florida.

After his career at Florida State, Davis served as:

  • Deputy executive director of operations for the Republican Party of Florida
  • External affairs director for the Department of Children and Families
  • President of the African American Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida
  • Executive vice president of the Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce

Davis’ impressive resume offers a skill set that many states struggle to find when launching a sports betting industry.

States such as Colorado tend to bring in sports industry representatives to offer input about how to craft beneficial sports betting laws.

In Davis, DeSantis has a leader whose sports background can offer considerable insight into crafting legislation.

Davis takes over in the wake of a scandal

While sports betting doesn’t seem to be on Florida’s short-term radar, the lottery is a thriving household name in the Sunshine State.

However, Davis enters a position left vacant after former secretary Randall Hunt suddenly resigned earlier this year. Hunt stepped down two months into the job amid reports that he faced a tax lien of more than $100,000 and had a past allegation of domestic violence.

In a statement, though, Davis was upbeat about his new position.

“I’m honored to serve in this capacity on behalf of Governor Ron DeSantis and his administration. I look forward to furthering this mission at the Lottery and working with elected officials and our business partners to meet our education and sales goals.”

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JR Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey gambling beats for Catena Media. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun. Duren is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

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