Florida Sports Teams to Leave the State?

A Referendum

In the United States, there were elections for many national and local offices, recently.  The national elections were for the Congress of the United States.  The details of exactly what that vote means are not immediately important, yet.  They will be important soon.

What is important now is that states put on the ballot many other measures that they want the public to vote on.  These are called referendums (or referenda in pure, classic English).

In Florida, the state put on the ballot a referendum asking the voters if they wanted the state legislature to legalize sports betting in the state.

Fifty States Equal Fifty Jurisdictions

In May 2018, the United States Supreme Court voided a law from 1992 that had made sports betting illegal in 46 of the 50 U.S. states.  The details of the law are not important here but you can look it up:  the law was called PASPA.

The Supreme Court decision made sports betting a state matter and that each state could decide for itself if it wanted to make sports betting legal or not and, if legal, how to regulate it.  So, the voters in Florida were put to the task of voting yea or nay on legalizing sports betting in their state.  The voters didn’t choose to make sports betting illegal in Florida; they voted to make it very hard to pass laws legalizing and regulating sports betting in Florida.  The vote was overwhelming to make sports betting more difficult in Florida: the vote was 70% for making it harder and only 30% to make it easier.

Disney World and Seminole Indians

These two business interests led the way in encouraging voters in Florida to make sports betting legislation hard to accomplish.  Disney World runs the world’s most famous amusement park near Orlando and the Seminole Indians run several legal land based casinos in the state.

Both stood to lose money as people would spend their entertainment and gambling money on sports betting instead of in Disney World and at Native-American-run land based casinos.

Professional Sports Teams

Some of the pro sports teams in Florida actually supported the opposite.  They encouraged voters to choose to make it easy to pass legislation allowing and regulating sports betting in Florida.  Observers were sure that legal sports betting might become a gold mine of revenue for the teams as they would be allowed to operate in-game betting at the stadiums themselves.

Implications of the Vote

By voting to need a super majority just to pass sports betting laws in Florida, voters may have set in motion the state’s pro sports teams leaving Florida altogether.

A Possible Move to London

Although all of Florida’s pro teams would lose the ability to add to revenue through in-house prop bets as the games are unfolding, only the American foothball team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, are actually seen as very likely to leave the state.

The owner of the Jaguars, one Shad Kahn, already has sports interests in London so speculation is rife that he will ultimately move his American football team to London.

At a deeper level, there is talk about how American professional leagues might realign to take full advantage of sports betting.

Political Malfeasance in Florida

The vote in Florida also featured a race for Senator to the U.S. Congress and the race for governor of the state.  Both races were hard fought and highly contested and the Republican Party’s candidates won both races by very narrow margins.

That is, until one county began showing upon with thousands of new ballots to count.  If those ballots are allowed to count, the Democratic Party’s candidates will win both races in the end.  There is some evidence that the new ballots were created in order to reverse the outcomes of the two races.

This has implications for sports betting because political contests are also included under the rubric of sports betting.  If the outcomes as originally reported are changed, will some losing sports bettors sue the election officials for “stealing” their winning bets?

The races in Florida reflected the political divide in the United States as the two major political parties are at diametrically opposite ends of the broad spectrum of political thought.  The Democratic Party is far left, embracing Democratic Socialism and many other far left political positions.  The conservative Republican Party favors more traditional political views and capitalism over socialism.

The governor of a state wields vast political power within that state.  A single senator might upend the power divide in the United States Senate.  So, the races in Florida have serious political implications.  They might also bring into question the viability of sports betting on political races or on sporting events generally.

If the Republican wins are reversed in Florida through illegal means, could the U.S. courts in Florida be involved in lawsuits for years to come?  Will the seats remain unfilled because of the pending lawsuits?  All in all, the American system of politics seems headed for a very dangerous precipice and the implications for sports betting may be the canary in the coal mine for the demise of bi-partisan American politics.

So, a simple sports bet on a political candidate may have very serious implications for sports betting in the U.S. and for politics in the U.S. as well.  The combination of the vote in the referendum making legislation to change Florida’s sports betting laws much harder than it was before and the developing scandal in state politics put sports betting in a limelight that its operators and bettors would rather not have shine on it.

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