Raymond James Stadium.

  • The Florida Legislature will be presented with a sports betting bill package when they open the floor for hearings in March.
  • The latest legislation filed for the state would have mobile and retail sportsbooks legalized for Floridians with the possibility of sports gaming terminals at specific locations
  • The Legislature is holding a very short session that runs from March 2 – April 30.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Lawmakers are pushing for a legal Florida sports betting industry now more than ever in 2021 as a package of three bills covering various aspects of the market were introduced on Thursday.

This was an informal introduction of course, as the legislative session in the Sunshine State doesn’t officially open for hearings until March 2.

There are numerous pieces of legislation that have been filed with the state to legalize Florida sports betting this year. The sudden jump in lawmakers and advocates drawing up proposals for legal sports gaming shows quite the significance by letting the public, as well as the Florida Legislature, know that this market should be given serious consideration in 2021.

The Sports Betting Bills Package

To try and boost its appeal to the Legislature, Representative Chip LaMarca and Representative Anika Omphroy have come together to create this package and are saying a legal sports betting industry in Florida will help to bridge the budget gaps created by COVID-19.

“As we grapple with a tough budget year and as many good programs are facing deep cuts, it’s time Florida gets innovative when it comes to keeping dollars in our state,” said LaMarca on Thursday.

House Bill 1317 and House Bill 1321 are bills that have been created by LaMarca while House Bill 1319 was spearheaded by Omphroy.

FL HB 1317 would legalize retail and mobile sportsbooks through Tribal venues as well as professional sports stadiums, and pari-mutuel or racino locations throughout the state. Professional and collegiate sports would be open for wagers and a legal age of 21 is set for those who want to participate in the activity.

Sportsbook terminals are mentioned at undisclosed locations in addition to the mobile sportsbook platforms. This proposal also seeks to distinguish Class III gaming from sports betting so that Tribes and other entities would be eligible for licensure.

Wagering on high school sports is prohibited under this bill.

House Bill 1321 is set up to come up with the fees and licensing structure for gambling on sports in Florida should the main bill in House Bill 1317 receive passage.

FL HB 1319 is the part of this sports gaming market to cover taxes on the industry and where the revenues would end up going. Again, these two bills could only be made possible for approvals should the proposal regarding legalizing sports gaming be greenlit first.

What’s Next For Florida?

The Florida Legislature convenes for the 2021 session on March 2 and adjourns on April 30. This is a very short period of time for lawmakers to not only listen to but decide on the fate of this sports betting bill package. However, Governor Ron DeSantis is an advocate for the market and will sign off on any legislation that will make it legal should legislation land on his desk.

Proponents argue that millions of dollars are wagered on sporting events by Floridians every year with outside outlets which is all money that could be staying in the state with a legal market.

Legalization could also cause a surge in tourism should the Legislature decide to make sports gaming legal which is another pro for the Sunshine State with two not just one revenue stream helping with the budget deficits caused by the Coronavirus Pandemic.

“Floridians and visitors alike demand entertainment choices. I look forward to working with all interested parties in the Legislature on a bill that makes Florida a major player in the online and retail sports wagering industry to help fill budget shortfalls,” said LaMarca. “Bottom line? Safe and regulated domestic sports wagering is an industry Florida deserves.”

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