Hard Rock Hotel.

  • The Seminole Tribe of Florida and Governor Ron DeSantis want to sign regulated sports betting into law within the next week.
  • New Tribal Gaming Compacts that have been drawn up open retail and mobile sportsbooks in the state if they are approved by the Florida Legislature.
  • The Legislature adjourns for the year on April 30 which requires swift action or a special session to be called in May to approve the measure.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Seminole Tribe of Florida and Governor Ron DeSantis are closer to getting an agreement greenlit by the Florida Legislature next week that would regulate sports betting in the Sunshine State. Tribal Gaming Compacts have been negotiated and approved in principle by both the Tribe and the Governor that would expand gaming in Florida to include sports betting.

The proposal must now receive passage in the Legislature before it can take effect. According to research done on the subject by both parties involved, this addition to the gaming industry could bring in a minimum of $500 million in revenue yearly that would be added to the budget of the state.

What Florida Regulated Sports Betting Would Entail

The two chambers of the legislature would need to approve the measure that is being introduced to them. The Senate would like to vote and move the proposal next week as it is the last week of the session for 2021.

However, the House would rather not fast-track such a huge issue like that of gaming expansion and would hope to call a special session in May to hear the proposal and vote on it with more time to focus on what regulated sports betting market would mean for Florida.

There is too much at stake to get done in such a quick manner. There is the issue of whether Florida would need to amend its constitution to include sports gaming as is typically how any gambling expansions are done in the state. Voters may need to have a say on the matter. There is also the question of exclusivity and if sports betting would be a strictly tribal business or would commercial operators get in on the action in the future?

Under the proposal, the decline of the parimutuel market in the Sunshine State would allow them to open mobile sportsbooks and have online sports betting through their websites where Florida would gain as much as 55% of all net profits from those sports wagers. The Seminole Tribe would also get a cut from these bets.

On top of that, Florida sportsbooks would open at the seven casinos owned by the Seminole Tribe statewide. Additionally, they’d be able to open up craps games and roulette at their establishments under the new Tribal Gaming Compact. If this were not enough, they could also open numerous sports betting sites at stadiums and other gaming facilities.

They are guaranteed a 100-mile radius from their land-based venues where no other tribe could open a sportsbook. This means the Miccosukee Tribes gaming location in Miami would be out of the running for sports betting. New casinos owned by the Seminoles could be constructed in three locations which look to be Tampa, Brighton, and Hollywood with this deal.

So Now What Happens?

While Governor DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe are hoping to get this all tied up with a neat little bow by the end of the Florida legislative session on April 30, there might be just too much that needs to be done.

Even if the legislation were to pass through the House and the Senate in the next week and be signed by the Governor, the Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act would require the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s approval as well before it could become law.

These new compacts are 30-year deals, rather than the typical 15-year agreements. Under the drafts written up, the Seminole Tribe of Florida will pay the state anywhere from $500 -$600 million annually for the next 30 years.

“Florida has the potential to be a true sports gaming destination, particularly if you involve the teams in the economic pipeline,’’ said Daniel Wallach, Hallandale Beach lawyer who specializes in sports and gaming law.

Even if it doesn’t happen in the next week, 2021 looks favorable for a special session and passage for Florida to finally have a regulated sports betting industry of its own.

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