Gambling initiatives committees raise little, spend big in July

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The Big Three combined to less than $100 raised, but more than $7 million spent.

It appears the committees hoping to shape Florida’s gambling laws on the 2022 ballot went all-in in June, as finance reports covering last month show little in the way of contributions.

Some of the biggest gaming interests in the nation made a splash last month when it was revealed they pumped more than $52 million into political committees backing proposed constitutional amendments that would expand the gaming industry in the Sunshine State.

Their follow-up reports show less than $100 in fundraising combined. But the expenditure sheets tell a different story.

Florida Education Champions showed the biggest stack in its June report. A joint effort between DraftKings and Fan Duel, the committee is pushing an amendment to open the state’s sports betting market to all comers.

In its inaugural report, the committee pulled in $20 million, split down the middle between the two sports betting platforms. In July, it added just $87. Spending, however, topped $3.4 million.

Nearly half — $1.57 million — went to Advanced Micro Targeting for voter contact efforts. The committee shipped another $1.03 million to Election Management Solutions for mailers and postage. Election Connections had a $560,000 payday for phone outreach. And Supernova Digital Communications, which shares a Tallahassee PO Box with Election Management Solutions, pulled down $165,000. Various firms and consulting groups, such as law and lobbying firm Gunster, cashed checks in the five-figure range.

Florida Education Champions entered August with $16.43 million left in the tank.

Meanwhile, a committee backed by Las Vegas Sands angling to bring casino gambling to the Jacksonville area showed no income and $3.8 million in spending. In June, the multibillion-dollar resort and casino company built by the late Sheldon Adelson pumped $17 million into Florida Voters in Charge.

The PC has put forward a pair of proposed amendments — one that would authorize up to three existing cardroom license holders to offer full-fledged casino gaming if they’re at least 130 miles away from tribal lands and another that would allow for up to three new casinos in the state that are at least 100 miles from tribal lands.

Last month, they started the signature-gathering process in earnest, spending $3.75 million on petition gathering services through Ponte Vedra Beach-based Game Day Strategies. The committee also spent $29,750 on polling through Cygnal and paid $10,000 for consulting from Bascom Communications.

Florida Voters in Charge closed out July with $13.27 million on hand.

The other major player, People Against Regulatory Legislation Addressing You, laid an egg last month — it didn’t report any expenditures either. The committee is backed by Magic City Casino, which made a $15 million deposit in June.

Meanwhile, the Seminole Tribe of Florida has yet to report finance numbers for a new committee it launched to oppose gambling expansions that would erode the benefits it secured — such as exclusive control of the sports betting market — in its newly approved Gaming Compact with the state.

Voters in Control launched with a $10 million infusion from the Tribe, but an account of its July activity was not yet available on the Florida Division of Elections website as of Tuesday evening, the day reports are due to the state.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


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