Will Florida’s Sports Betting Roadblock Pave Way For Jaguars’ Move To London?

The future of legalized sports betting in Florida looks bleak at best, and one prominent NFL reporter thinks that could significantly alter the league’s landscapes in years to come.

The state of Florida on Tuesday night voted “Yes” on Question 3, which means any expansion of gambling — including sports betting — must be passed by a 60 percent vote.

Floridians overwhelmingly voted for the measure with more than 70 percent of the cast ballots voting “Yes.”

Both Disney and the Seminole Tribe of Florida led the charge for the amendment, and it’s easy to see why: An expansion of gambling, particularly sports betting, would take away potential dollars from both entities. At least if you ask them.

Had the vote gone the other way, professional sports teams in Florida potentially stood to benefit. In-game, in-stadium wagering theoretically is a financial opportunity for the state’s pro sports teams.

In a previously unprecedented move, the Miami Dolphins urged fans to vote against the amendment with a since-deleted tweet. The Tamp Bay Buccaneers opposed the measure, too.

The Jacksonville Jaguars, meanwhile, kept quiet. Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio on Wednesday morning wondered whether the new law makes it more likely Jaguars owner Shad Khan will ultimately move the team to London.

“The passage of the new amendment that, as a practical matter, will make it much harder to adopt sports wagering (and in turn create revenue streams like in-game prop bets) could make a relocation to London even more attractive to Khan,” Florio wrote.

Speculation about Khad moving the Jaguars to London has existed almost since Khad bought the team in 2011. Khan’s purchase of English soccer club Fulham in 2013 only fanned those flames, and there’s been increased chatter about a potential relocation in recent years.

Sports betting is far more prominent in the English soccer world, with no shortage of English Premier League partnerships. What’s more is that in-game betting is also allowed, and fans can place those bets from inside the stadium. The latest developments in Florida not only ensure in-game wagering won’t be coming to the Sunshine State anytime soon. It will also make it harder for the state’s pro sports teams to partner with sportsbooks because, well, the sportsbooks aren’t coming to Florida.

But the issue with Florio’s premise is it’s assuming a lot. For starters, the NFL will have to ultimately change its stance on sports betting. The NFL does seem more open to the idea, especially after the Supreme Court legalized sports betting earlier this year, but league commissioner Roger Goodell and Co. are taking a wait-and-see approach. That could change relatively quickly, and the Oakland Raiders’ move to Las Vegas is indicative of the league’s softening stance on sports betting.

Still, there’s a lot that needs to be sorted out before the NFL and its teams can profit off sports betting in a truly lucrative way, and that’s assuming it’s even possible for the NFL to make a ton of money off gambling. Sure, there will likely be partnerships and naming rights opportunities, but it’s not like the NFL or any of its teams have provided a plan for how they plan to profit off something like in-game betting.

Perhaps Tuesday’s development pushes Khan and the Jaguars closer to London, but that train has been on the tracks for quite some time. If the Jags do end up in London on a full-time basis, it’s more likely it has to do with the NFL’s desire to have its own sort of manifest destiny than it does capitalize on sports betting — but this certainly could be one of many factors, too.

Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images

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