The Seminole Tribe of Florida released a YouTube video Thursday thanking the people of Florida for not supporting sports betting ballot initiatives sponsored by commercial operators.

  • The Seminole Tribe of Florida released a YouTube video on Thursday thanking the voters of Florida for not supporting commercial sportsbook ballot initiatives.
  • The video’s release is the latest part of a long and complicated battle between the Seminole Tribe of Florida and out-of-state commercial sportsbook operators and their PACs.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Seminole Tribe of Florida publicly thanked Florida’s constituents through a video posted on YouTube by the tribe on Thursday for their rejection of a pair of ballot initiatives that would have allowed commercial sportsbooks to operate in Florida.

Seminole Tribe Thanks Floridians In YouTube Video

The video, which had accumulated nearly 1.5 million views on YouTube by Friday morning, thanked the people of Florida as well as “all those who worked overtime to preserve the integrity of elections in our state.

The video’s narrator went on to say “Despite spending over $100 million, the outside gaming petitions fell short, because the partnership between the tribe and Floridians is stronger than ever,” about the DraftKings and FanDuel-backed voter initiatives.

Video The Next Chapter In Ongoing Florida Sports Betting Saga

The video statement released by the Seminole Tribe is the latest installment of a multi-part saga between the tribe, Florida, and a multiplicity of commercial sportsbook operators and special interests.

On October 15, 2021, sports betting was officially regulated in Florida; however, the Seminole Tribe did not launch a sportsbook at that time due to pending lawsuits.

A few weeks later, on November 1, the Seminole Tribe quietly launched their Seminole Hard Rock Sportsbook in Florida, despite issuing assurances to the court that they would not launch a mobile sportsbook until after November 15.

This launch was short-lived, as District Court Judge Dabney L. Friedrich ruled that the updated tribal-gaming compact signed by the Seminole Tribe and Governor Ron DeSantis in May violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and was therefore null and void.

As a result, sports betting reverted to its previous status – unregulated.

In the wake of Judge Friedrich’s decision, commercial operators began the process of gathering signatures with hopes to open up the previously tribal-only market in Florida. This process, too, was not without its controversy.

A Politico report released in early December alleged that signature-gathering efforts for both the Florida Sports Betting Initiative and the Florida Casino Gaming Expansion Initiative were being sabotaged by agents working on behalf of the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

PACs working on behalf of the commercial operators subsequently filed an emergency request for an injunction, which was withdrawn days later.

In January, controversy arose as a result of reports from election supervisors that election fraud – in particular, knowingly submitting invalid signatures – was running rampant among signature-gatherers for the Florida Casino Gaming Expansion Initiative.

Where Does Florida Go From Here?

The deadline to submit the required number of signatures was February 1; none of the sports betting-related petitions reached the threshold. As a result, there will be no legal sports betting ballot initiative on Florida’s 2024 ballot.

This means Florida will be without state-regulated sports betting for the foreseeable future unless Gov. DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe can renegotiate a compact that does not violate the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

Essentially, the failure of the commercial petitions ensures that the Seminole Tribe is granted a monopolistic hold on legal sports betting in Florida (when it finally arrives) unless Florida and the tribe are unable to agree to a compact by the following general election cycle in 2026.

Expect to see the Seminole Tribe and Gov. DeSantis negotiate a new tribal gaming compact within the next year or so; likely, this will be a land-based sports betting compact only, since the primary sticking point with the prior compact was the “hub-and-spoke” online sports betting system.

Any online sportsbook provision would likely require bettors to be located on tribal lands or at a casino – however, bettors of Florida will likely take whatever form of sports betting they can get at this point.

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