Lawmakers in Florida failed to pass a sports betting bill as session ends.

  • The legislative session in the Sunshine State has ended without the legalization of Florida sports betting.
  • A special meeting between the Seminole Tribe and Senate President Bill Galvano later this year could bring legal sports betting to the state by way of new gaming-compacts.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Another legislative session came to an end on March 13 marking another year where Florida sports betting legalization failed to pass.

Plenty of discussions took place this year among various lawmakers regarding the topic of making the gambling on sporting events legal but that’s about as far as it went; talk.

The Sunshine State is in a unique position where they’d need to receive the approval of the Seminole Tribe of Florida to move forward with legal gaming but both sides couldn’t come up with an agreement in time.

FL Sports Betting Timeline

In the beginning, the Tribe was not speaking with the state about possible legalization. Every effort made by either side to have a real talk on the issue did not occur.

It wasn’t until the very beginning of March that the two agreed to meet and go over making Florida sports betting legal. However, that was not nearly enough time for a bill to go through the proper channels on its way to becoming a law.

Presently, the Seminole Tribe has stopped payments to the state from their gaming businesses due to issues with their compacts.

That’s been a loss of $330 million in yearly payments as the Tribe continues to operate under their old compact because they have not yet been open to the terms stated within a new one. If they were to receive a deal like that of their old compact, they would be open to the idea of expanding into sports betting statewide.

A special legislative session would need to be held where Governor Ron DeSantis would involve himself in the gaming compact dilemma. As it stands, Florida is losing hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue based on a proposal from Sen. Wilton Simpson that DeSantis did not agree with in the first place. He sided with the Tribes on that one.

“Obviously, the tribe makes a killing here at casinos in the state of Florida because they actually are the Florida businesses,” said DeSantis after meeting with pari-mutuel operators last year.

He would like to see sports betting become a legal operation in the state if the right negotiations were to take place with the Tribe.

In Simpson’s proposal that was shot down, the Seminole Tribe would pay $500 million to the state on a yearly basis which is $170 million more than what they were paying and certain player games at their pari-mutuel betting establishments would no longer be allowed.

The Tribe refused this new compact because they’d be losing business and having to pay more. Legal sports betting could bring in an estimated $155.7 million to Florida which would be huge in closing that gap that Simpson’s compact wanted the Tribe to pay.

All hope may not be lost for legal sports betting in the Sunshine State. While it is highly unusual for a special session to take place during an election year and with the current state of the Coronavirus pandemic, a new gaming compact for the Tribe may still be in the cards.

However, if it is, they could discuss and allow their facilities to include legal sports betting within a new compact. If that were to happen, Florida could actually see the legalization of gambling on sports matchups in 2020.

“We have made progress internally, and we are now engaged in negotiations with the Tribe,” said Senate President Bill Galvano. And so that special legislation might take place after all as DeSantis added “I hope we get to a deal there. But again, I’d rather have a good deal and do it a few days later, or even you can even bring people back potentially, than try to force things under an artificial timeline.”

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