Las Vegas Money Pouring Into Florida Sports Betting Push

Written By JR Duren on July 15, 2021
An influx of at least $17 million from Las Vegas Sands to Florida will presumably play a role in future sports betting amendments.

If you want to win the Florida sports betting race, it’s going to take money.

How much?  At least $17 million to start, according to records from the Florida Department of State’s Division of Elections (FDOE). Florida Voters in Charge, a PAC based in Jacksonville assumed to play a role in future sports betting amendments, has received a $17 million donation from Las Vegas Sands.

Who is Florida Voters in Charge?

The PAC’s chair is William Spicola and its treasurer is Erika Alba, both lawyers based in Florida. The PAC is registered to a Jacksonville address, according to FDOE records.

The PAC’s focus is to “support or opposed initiatives on the Florida General Election ballot” and “statewide constitutional amendment(s),” according to paperwork filed with the FDOE.

At the time of publishing, the PAC had received more than $17 million in donations from two sources:

  • Las Vegas Sands: $17.06 million
  • Game Day Strategies: $100

The Sands donation is a powerful one, not just because of the dollar amount, but because of the business itself. It’s the first big donation this year from a specific out-of-state casino company.

Why does Florida Voters in Charge Matter?

The PAC’s big donation from the Sands surfaced around the same time FDOE records indicated that Florida Education Champions, a PAC that submitted a sports betting initiative for the Nov. 2022 election cycle, received a pair of $10 million donations from DraftKings and FanDuel.

The Florida sports betting push now has nearly $40 million in out-of-state money. DraftKings and FanDuel offer daily fantasy sports in Florida but are based in the Northeast.

This influx of money indicates that the push for sports betting in the state is now in full swing. How the PACs will use that money is both clear and unclear.

Florida Education Champions has submitted an initiative to the FDOE that could lead to an amendment allowing sports betting throughout the state.

Florida Voters in Charge has not submitted a sports betting initiative to FDOE, and has not indicated in any of their paperwork they want to propose a sports-betting amendment.

What does this mean for the Seminole compact?

Earlier this year, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an updated compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The agreement gave the tribe exclusive rights over sports betting in the state.

That compact is now under review by the Department of the Interior, a standard procedure that should conclude in early August.

The compact’s loudest critics note that the agreement’s sports betting provisions aren’t supported by legal precedent.

The influx of money into the state’s sports-betting PACs suggests there is a belief that the compact may not survive lawsuits.

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JR Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the gambling beats for more than a dozen states for Catena Media since 2015. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun, and he is a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

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