Signature Gatherers Accused In Florida Sports Betting Campaign

October 14, 2021
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The DraftKings and FanDuel sports-betting campaign committee in Florida is no longer soliciting signatures at Florida International University (FIU) in Miami following reports of students being harassed on campus, a committee official said.

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The DraftKings and FanDuel sports-betting campaign committee in Florida is no longer soliciting signatures at Florida International University (FIU) in Miami following reports of students being harassed on campus, a committee official said.

"Florida Education Champions have not had an organized presence of paid petition gatherers on the Florida International University campus since mid-September, due largely in part [to] other groups using irresponsible, threatening and potentially criminal signature gathering practices," Christina Johnson, a spokeswoman for the political action committee (PAC) told VIXIO GamblingCompliance in an email on Wednesday.

In addition to DraftKings and FanDuel, Las Vegas Sands and the Seminole Tribe have sought signatures of support at FIU for their separate ballot initiatives.

Panther Now, a student-run publication at FIU, first reported the allegations of harassment. Its article included a photograph of a petition linked to DraftKings and FanDuel that was distributed in an FIU classroom on September 22.

DraftKings and FanDuel must collect 891,589 valid signatures by February 1 to put their mobile sports betting initiative on the Florida ballot on November 8, 2022.

Las Vegas Sands, which is trying to bring a separate initiative to allow commercial casinos in Florida, did not respond on Wednesday to a request for comment.

The Seminole Tribe also did not respond to a request on Wednesday for comment, but tribal spokesman Gary Bitner has said representatives of the tribe remain on FIU's campus seeking support for the Seminole Compact.

"We are aware of the FIU article, and our team has already followed up to ensure all representatives continue to act appropriately, including being courteous and respectful at all times," Bitner told SportsHandle.

Sports betting becomes legal in Florida on Friday, according to the Seminole Compact, but the launch must wait for at least a month as the tribe continues preparations.

The compact also is being challenged in federal court in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C.

Johnson, the spokeswoman for the DraftKings/FanDuel PAC, said various methods are being used to collect signatures.

"Florida Education Champions is leading its signature gathering efforts across the state through digital ads, direct mail and via petition gatherers going door-to-door and at collegiate and professional sporting events and locations to collect the more than 890,000 valid petitions needed by Florida's February 1, 2022, deadline," she said.

DraftKings and FanDuel, along with five other leading sportsbook brands, also are attempting to place a mobile sports betting initiative on the California ballot next year, but have not begun collecting signatures in the Golden State.

"We're waiting for a preliminary title and summary for the petition from the California attorney general which we should receive next month,"said Nathan Click, a spokesman for DraftKings and FanDuel and a former communications director for California Governor Gavin Newsom.

DraftKings and FanDuel must obtain roughly 997,000 signatures to put their mobile sports betting initiative on the California ballot in 2022.

"It's an axiom that if you are willing to spend several million dollars you can put almost anything on the ballot," said Dan Walters, a political journalist for CalMatters, a Sacramento-based non-profit news organization.

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