Seminole Tribe Opposes Proposed Sports Betting Initiative

Written By JR Duren on June 29, 2021
The Seminole Tribe of Florida this past week released a statement opposing FanDuel's and DraftKings' proposed sports betting amendment.

In a move that comes as no surprise to anyone familiar with the state of sports betting in Florida, the Seminole Tribe of Florida has released a statement opposing the sports betting amendment FanDuel and DraftKings proposed this past week.

Seminole gaming spokesman Gary Bitner released a widely distributed statement in which he characterized FanDuel and DraftKings’ amendment as a “political Hail Mary.”

The amendment comes at a time when a gaming compact between Florida and the Seminole that includes sports betting is under review with the Department of Interior.

Bitner: We’ve already got sports betting locked down

The showdown between the Seminole tribe and the sports betting giants is a relatively even match, if for no other reason than the tribe has the backing of the state legislature.

Bitner appealed to this legislative support when he lobbed a stinging sortie of words in his statement about the proposed amendment.

“They couldn’t stop Florida’s new gaming compact, which passed by an overwhelming 88 percent ‘yes’ vote from Florida’s elected legislators and enjoys 3-to-1 support from Floridians and guarantees $2.5 billion in revenue sharing,” Bitner said in hits statement. “The guarantee is the largest commitment by any gaming company in U.S. history.”

Bitner has a point; a sports betting compact that has the backing of the state’s politicians and its residents is tough to beat.

The parameters of the compact‘s sports-betting provisions include, but are not limited to, the following provisions:

  • All wagering would be done by sportsbooks operated by the tribe or an approved contractor.
  • Bets can be placed on professional, college, amateur, and Olympic events.
  • Pari-mutuel facilities could operate sports betting on behalf of the tribe.
  • The tribe would pay pari-mutuel operators at least 60% of their winnings from the facility minus expenses.
  • Contracts with pari-mutuels must be at least five years long.
  • The tribe pays the state $2.5 billion in the first five years of the compact.

DraftKings, FanDuel amendment gives nod to tribe, Department of Education

The amendment proposed by the two sports-betting giants has a pair of distinct measures that make it unique compared to legislation seen in other states:

  • Temporary exclusivity for the tribe, in which no other competing sports-betting operators can work in the state for the first 20 months after the amendment kicks in.
  • All revenue generated by taxes goes straight to an educational fund set up when the Florida Lottery debuted in the ’80s.

In essence, FanDuel and DraftKings want to win over the tribe with the amendment’s exclusivity clause, and win over the people by forcing all tax revenue to go toward the state’s education system.

Aside from the two provisions above, the amendment calls for retail and online/mobile in-game and future bets on professional, collegiate, amateur, and Olympic sports. Bettors would sign up for online sports-betting accounts through their computer or mobile device.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the amendment proposal is the timing. The tribe’s compact is under review with the Department of Interior, and sports betting would presumably sink the compact. If the sports betting aspect of the compact failed, the proposed amendment would be poised to make a run for the November 2022 ballot.

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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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