Why Florida Sports Betting Push By FanDuel, DraftKings Fell Short

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Florida sports betting

Floridians might have to wait until 2025 for multiple Florida sports betting options.

FanDuel and DraftKings failed to secure the 891,589 verified signatures needed by February 1 to place a sports betting question on the ballot in November.

Operators want the ballot question to open the market beyond the Hard Rock offering from the Seminole Tribe. The tribe has exclusivity over mobile FL sports betting, which it attempted to start this year before shutting down following a court defeat of its governing compact with the state.

Admitting defeat in Florida sports betting battle

On Friday, the FanDuel and DraftKings-backed PAC announced it was giving up on its effort, with around 477,000 signatures verified.

Florida Education Champions said it accrued more than 1 million signatures. That suggests the state was not able to verify them in time.

The state requires 30 days to verify signatures.

The group also blamed COVID-19 for impacting signature collection.

What Florida Education Champions said

Here’s the full statement from Florida Education Champions spokesperson Christina Johnson:

“We are extremely encouraged by the level of support from the more than one million Floridians who signed our petition. We thank them for their efforts in wanting to bring safe and legal sports betting to Florida, while funding public education. 

While pursuing our mission to add sports betting to the ballot we ran into some serious challenges, but most of all the COVID surge decimated our operations and ability to collect in-person signatures. We want to thank our local Supervisors of Elections and staff members for their diligent work in verifying petitions.

“We will be considering all options in the months ahead to ensure that Floridians have the opportunity to bring safe and legal sports betting to the state, along with hundreds of millions of dollars annually to support public education.” 

Commercial sportsbooks will likely have to wait until 2024 for another chance to put a question on the ballot.

What went wrong?

The fact the sportsbooks got the requisite signatures but not quickly enough reflects some poor planning.

FanDuel and DraftKings invested nearly $37 million combined into the effort, but only asked Barstool for help last week.

In the meantime, Floridians have no legal betting at all. The Seminole Tribe pulled the Hard Rock Sportsbook app in December after a string of legal defeats.

That decision is also under appeal, but the case could last a year or longer.