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Politics can be a nasty business and some of that political nastiness appears to be making its way south to Florida as the state’s Seminole Tribe has begun a “campaign of opposition” against those forces who seek to end their monopoly on sports gambling in the Sunshine State.
It’s a blocking campaign meant to stop rival companies from getting certain provisions on the 2022 midterm ballot, potential legislation that, if approved, would allow other commercial companies to offer sports betting services in the state of Florida.
To achieve their goal, the tribe has reportedly begun to pay large sums of money to petition gathering services – more than they would make doing their jobs – in an effort to dissuade them from collecting enough signatures to get those measures added to the 2022 midterm ballot.
The Seminoles have also hired workers to interfere with signature gatherers who are connected to the petition effort as well as started an on-air campaign using television ads that are meant to enlighten viewers on the tribe’s point of view.
It’s all in an effort to support their appeal of a recent federal ruling.
As we recently reported in Federal Judge Halts Florida Mobile Sports Betting, Tosses Amended Seminole Compact, US District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich ruled that the amended gaming compact between the tribe and the state violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).
This was decided based on the fact that allowing mobile sports wagers to be placed from anywhere in the state so long as the computer servers that handle the action are located on tribal land, the so-called hub-and-spoke model, goes directly against the IGRA.
The judge saw it for the loophole it is, saying “a bet is placed wherever the bettor is,” and as a result threw out the entire 30-year gaming compact, claiming the court “cannot accept that fiction,” a ruling that the Seminole Tribe is the process of appealing.
Now a group of commercial gambling companies want in on that lucrative Florida market.
For decades now, the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which owns the Hard Rock brand gaming venues, has enjoyed a virtual monopoly on Florida’s gambling market.
Their domination of that industry was strengthened after they signed an amended compact with the state giving them exclusive rights to sports betting services and new gaming options, but that is the compact was just ruled illegal by a federal judge.
Now outside sportsbooks like the Las Vegas Sands, FanDuel, and DraftKings are fighting the tribe, arguing that other companies in that industry should also have a right to offer sports betting in Florida.
But these companies need valid Floridian signatures to get their measures on the 2022 midterm ballot so it can be considered by lawmakers, so the tribe is using these ‘petition payoffs’ to make that process more difficult for these outside interests.
A tribe spokesperson said the tribe has “gathered the best team of political consultants in the country to fight the measures” and that they are “engaged in opposition to multiple outside interests that invested $60 million to hire individuals to fight the tribe’s success.”
So it comes down to politics as usual as Floridian bettors anxiously await the outcome of this ongoing battle, one that we will keep you updated on in the upcoming months.
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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