The Seminole Tribe of Florida is allegedly paying petition-gathering firms to stay away from its home state as it reportedly looks to scupper rival efforts that could result in legalized online sportsbetting being brought to ‘The Sunshine State.’
According to a Monday report from the online news domain at Politico.com, revelations of this supposed ‘blocking’ campaign come less than a month after the federally-recognized tribe’s own legalized online sportsbetting effort was scuppered by a federal court ruling. This decision in response to a lawsuit from the operator of Miami’s Magic City Casino, West Flagler Associates Limited, purportedly prevented the Seminole Tribe of Florida from continuing to run a mobile-friendly sports wagering service initially authorized under a state-sanctioned gaming compact it inked in May.
However, the Seminole Tribe of Florida subsequently announced that it would be appealing this ruling from Judge Dabney Friedrich from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in hopes of being able to keep offering legalized online sportsbetting to aficionados located anywhere from Key West to Pensacola. In the meantime and Politico.com reported that the tribe is now said to be engaged in a series of underhanded tactics that it allegedly hopes will prevent a number of rival pro-sports wagering efforts from gaining enough signatures to place their own referendums onto a mid-term ballot in November of next year.
As part of this effort and the Seminole Tribe of Florida has reportedly inked highly-lucrative exclusivity agreements with several firms that specialize in collecting signatures for such campaigns. The source detailed that some of these agreements are said to prevent the partner companies from operating in Florida while a number of others are to result in a wave of campaign-style television advertisements in addition to an informal side petition effort.
To make matters worse and Politico.com reported that the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which is responsible for six casinos across the southern state including the 37-acre Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tampa as well as the even larger Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Hollywood, is alleged to have furthermore begun paying agents to interfere with people gathering signatures for rival petitions. One of these is an effort being backed by online sportsbetting giants FanDuel Group and DraftKings Incorporated that would have the added benefit of giving the pair significant footholds into the Florida gaming market.
Politico.com reported that just one of the firms working to collect signatures for such a rival 2022 ballot initiative, Dunton Consulting, asserted that it had seen 32 of its employees accept buyouts from enterprises linked to the Seminole Tribe of Florida in just the previous two days. This polling company’s Chief Executive Officer, Rasheida Smith, purportedly declared that people are being lured away by lucrative sign-up bonuses worth up to $7,000 and promises of receiving as much as $250 for every co-worker they can convince to switch sides.
Smith reportedly told Politico.com…
“Over the last 72 hours there has really been a big uptick and they are starting to use canvassers to co-opt other canvassers. They are super aggressive. Have been following them, tracking them to their places of residence, which are hotels, standing outside. We literally had one smack a clipboard out of the canvasser’s hands the other day.”
In response to such allegations and a spokesperson for the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Gary Bitner, reportedly told Politico.com that the tribe was simply engaged in assembling ‘the best team of political consultants in the country’ but would fire anyone found to have acted inappropriately.
Bitner reportedly pronounced…
“The Seminole Tribe of Florida is currently engaged to oppose multiple outside interests that have initially invested a combined $60 million in political action committee (PAC) money to hire more than a thousand people to fight its success.”