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Right now, the Florida sports betting scene is in a bit of flux as the compact between the Seminoles and the state is being renegotiated, the result of being thrown out by a Federal Judge for violating the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).
As that ruling is being appealed by U.S. Dept. of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and the DOI, sportsbook operators outside the tribal world are also fighting to get a piece of Florida’s potentially lucrative sports betting pie by attempting to add a ballot initiative for November.
To get on the ballot, though, its sponsor, Florida Education Champions (FEC), would need 891,589 verified signatures by February 1, and as we have reported this has all sorts of industry players lending support to drum up enough voter signatures to move forward with ending the so-called Florida sports betting monopoly currently held by the Seminoles.
Weeks prior, DraftKings CEO Jason Robins showed concern that this race for signatures will be tight, saying:
I’m worried we’re not going to get there; it’s going to be really close.
This desperate petitioning process has led to some attempts at forgery.
According to a story in the Times/Herald, the state attorney general’s office is receiving multiple reports of fraudulent petitions, with accusations of those stemming from the Las Vegas Sands’ ongoing attempt to get a similar initiative on this year’s November ballot.
— Howard Stutz (@howardstutz) January 20, 2022
This flow of fake John Hancocks is creating a backlog for state election officials, with reports of verification taking far longer for these bogus signatures than for legitimate ones, and with some accusing the Sands of illegally paying petition gatherers, this hiccup could get tricky to straighten out.
But Jim McKee, an attorney for Florida Voters in Charge, argues that these claims are not accurate, telling the Times/Herald that it would make no sense for them to do this, saying:
The idea that our committee would purposely submit fraudulent petitions is ridiculous. This would not help our effort in any way.
If made into a law, more than just the Seminoles would be allowed to operate gambling markets in Florida.
The idea of the new proposal would be to allow some Florida card rooms to offer the same type of gambling that a casino would, so long as said room is located at least 130 miles away from a Seminole Hard Rock Casino.
This would be a huge shift to how things have been done in the Sunshine State, so expect the pushback from native leaders to continue, though with the deadline for collecting signatures fast approaching, FEC spokesperson Christina Johnson told the media:
Florida Education Champions continues to collect and submit petitions to local supervisors of elections throughout the state for validation and prior to the Feb. 1, 2022 deadline. There has been ongoing paid media advertising on all channels and platforms designed to raise awareness and assist the paid circulator effort, and that is continuing.
It’s an unfolding scenario that we will continue to report on so check back for all the related latest news and updates.
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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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