New gambling initiatives in Florida have been unable to obtain enough signatures to meet the 2022 ballot. Florida Education Champions was working on a measure involving sports betting in the state while Florida Voters in Charge was hopeful that new casinos would be approved. Both initiatives required 891,589 verified signatures by February 1.
Failure to Achieve Enough Signatures
Despite their best efforts, both groups were unable to reach the desired signature amounts. There is a signature distribution requirement in the state that must be met, with signatures equal to 8% or more of the district vote from the last presidential election to be collected from 14 or more of the 27 congressional districts. This placed a bit more pressure on both efforts.
The measure by Florida Education Champions was backed by FanDuel and DraftKings, set to legalize sports betting online, at existing pari-mutuel facilities and sports venues. A constitutional amendment was required first, setting up the industry, including licensing and regulation. Tax revenues derived from sports betting would have been dedicated to education needs.
Reports show that just over $37 million was contributed to the campaign effort with over $23 million paid for petition gathering needs. The group announced in late January that the initiative would not be able to reach the signature requirements. Only just over 514,000 signatures were validated.
Asking the Court for Help
Florida Voters in Charge was much closer to reaching its goal but still failed to hit the full signature requirement. This initiative was backed by the Las Vegas Sands and would bring new casinos to the state. By February 1, over 814,000 signatures were validated for the group.
A total of $51.6 million was contributed to the effort with over $44 million paid for petition gathering and consultation. A lawsuit was filed by the Florida group on January 31 seeking a court order for the state and county election offices. The goal is to see the processing effort continue. The group feels they have submitted enough signatures they just need to be validated.
Florida Voters in Charge says that unlawful delays in processing time are why they did not meet the deadline. The voter voices need to be heard and the group feels that the court order is the only way to see it through.
Both initiatives were subject to opposition from Standing up for Florida, a group backed by the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The tribe would lose its monopoly if such measures were approved. Late last year, reports surfaced regarding the Seminole Tribe and the petition process. Allegedly, the tribe was blocking campaign efforts by signing an exclusivity agreement with petition firms as well as hiring individuals to interfere with the signature-gathering process of its opponents.