Dolphins to Voters: Protect Right to Legally Bet on Sports

(Bloomberg) -- The Miami Dolphins are urging fans to vote Tuesday to support bringing sports gambling to Florida.

The National Football League team tweeted that Floridians should vote no on a ballot initiative that would make it more difficult to change the state’s gambling laws in the future. Betting on sports isn’t yet legal in the Sunshine State. But the team said that if voters approve Amendment 3 -- which would require 60 percent state-wide support for any new casino -- it would “effectively block any chance for legal sports betting in Florida."

The tweet shows just how far leagues like the NFL have come in embracing the growing industry. For the past decade, the NFL, NBA, NCAA, MLB and NCAA were the most active opponents to legalized sports betting outside Nevada. They were on the losing side of the Supreme Court case that now allows any state to legalize the activity.

It also shows a bolder approach by the Dolphins, who are owned by real estate billionaire Stephen Ross. Last month, Bloomberg News reported that the team appeared to have opposed the ballot initiative through a $500,000 donation from a sod farm registered at its football stadium. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers also gave that amount to the group fighting the measure. Since that story ran, both teams and Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan have each kicked in another $500,000.

The American Gaming Association estimates that legalized sports gambling will generate $2.33 billion in revenue for the NFL. That includes increased fan engagement, and partnerships that teams like the Dolphins can sign with local sports books.

Those in favor of the Florida amendment include Walt Disney Co. and the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

The Dolphins’ tweeting their position outright is a much more direct form of support, especially in a league where public displays of political opinion are often heavily criticized (see: Kaepernick, Colin).

Fans were quick to jump on the tweet. “How about just shutting up and focusing on fixing that offense," wrote one. Another follower: “So it’s stick to football when it comes to fighting for minority rights but when it’s talking about sports gambling it’s all good?"

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.