Florida Sports Betting Measure at Crunch Time, Barstool’s Portnoy Backs Petition

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Florida Sports Betting Measure at Crunch Time, Barstool’s Portnoy Backs Petition

With the clock ticking, sports betting operators have started their versions of the two-minute drill to encourage Florida’s registered voters to put a sports betting legalization measure on the November ballot. They’ve apparently even called on Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy to help get the initiative’s petition across the goal line.

Portnoy
Portnoy
Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy, seen here at an event at Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City, has joined the push to get a sports betting initiative on the Florida ballot for the November election. (Image: Tom Briglia/Getty)

Proponents of the measure must have 891,589 signatures from registered voters validated by Florida elections officials by Feb. 1 in order for it to qualify. That figure equals 8 percent of the votes cast in the state’s last presidential election.

According to data from the Florida Division of Elections, officials have validated 346,826 signatures. That’s roughly 40 percent of the threshold. In addition to the statewide total, Florida Education Champions, the sponsor of the sports betting measure, must also get signatures from registered voters that equal or exceed 8 percent of the votes cast in at least 14 of the state’s 27 congressional districts.

Florida Education Champions has received $37.2 million in contributions to promote the sports betting measure across the state. According to state election finance records, nearly all of that has come from DraftKings ($22.7 million) and FanDuel ($14.5 million). There have also been 29 individual contributions, but none exceed $100.

DraftKings Sweetens the Pot with a Bonus

Besides funding the political action committee sponsoring the measure, DraftKings is also willing to spend even more money to ensure the sports betting measure gets on the Florida ballot this year.

On Friday, the Boston-based gaming technology company announced a campaign to get more people to sign the petition. If successful, DraftKings’ Florida customers would receive $100 in site credits.

“All you have to do is print, sign, and mail in yours by Jan. 19,” DraftKings tweeted from its main account and its sportsbook account.

Barstool’s Portnoy Now Involved

On Thursday night, Portnoy went online at Barstool Sports and on social media sites to say he would “save sports gambling in Florida.”  He made the announcement from his home in South Florida.

Portnoy’s Barstool is the brand name for one of Penn National Gaming’s sport betting operations. Two years ago, Penn acquired a 36 percent share of the online sports media enterprise.

Portnoy said competitors who have “trashed” him in private now called on him to get more signatures. In addition, he said that if only the Seminole Tribe of Florida was allowed to offer sports betting in the state – assuming either the federal appeals court overturns a judge’s order that threw out the compact or a new compact limits sports betting to tribal lands only – bettors in the state would suffer from a lack of competitive options.

My enemies asked me to help,” Portnoy said. “We just want the choice.”

Portnoy’s video included a toll-free number and a QR code that let people request a petition.

What’s in the Florida Sports Betting Measure

The proposed measure would amend the state’s constitution to allow sports betting at professional sports stadiums and pari-mutuel venues as well as through mobile apps available across Florida. It would require the state legislature to pass laws regarding licensing operators, regulating the activity, and taxing operator revenues. Any tax dollars generated would go to the state’s Educational Enhancement Trust Fund.

If passed, operators that have conducted mobile sports betting in 10 or more states for at least one calendar year would be allowed to launch in Florida within “eight months of the effective date of this amendment,” according to the measure’s text. Native American tribes with a gaming compact in Florida would also be authorized to offer sports betting as well.

Last year, the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the state agreed to amend their tribal gaming compact. That deal gave the tribe exclusive statewide rights to online and retail sports betting in exchange for payments, including $2.5 billion for the first five years of the deal. However, a federal judge has thrown out the compact, saying it did not adhere to federal tribal gaming law.

The Seminole Tribe has appealed that ruling.

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