• The Seminole Tribe in Florida currently has exclusive rights to designated player card games such as blackjack.
  • Tribal Casinos in Florida pay about $350 million each year to the state.
  • Amendment 3 was passed in a statewide vote last year, requiring that gaming expansion is brought to legislators by voters.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Seminole Tribe has long has had a long stronghold on gaming operations in Florida and for good reason. The Tribe pays the state about $350 million per year in taxes, which is now threatened if they are unable to reach a deal before the end of this year’s legislative session.

In order to protect this integral part of the state’s budget, Florida Senator Wilton Simpson has been negotiating with Jim Allen, CEO of Seminole Gaming, in order to create a new tribal compact which may include provisions for the tribe to offer legal sports betting.

Florida Senate President Bill Galvano was the chief negotiator between the state and the Seminole Tribe back in 2010 when a deal was struck giving the tribe exclusive rights to offer card games such as blackjack.

The state of Florida has been able to collect more than $2.2 billion since that deal was reached. However, after complications arose in 2016 when a federal judge ruled that pari-mutuel betting sites in Florida that were offering these games broke the original contract.

As a remedy, Former Florida Governor Rick Scott and the Seminole Tribe were able to reach an agreement to extend the original contract until May 3 of this year.

However, if a new deal is not figured out before then, the Seminole tribe may cease payments to the state.

Some are seeing this as an opportunity for the tribe to expand their current offerings and include sports betting, craps, roulette, and online gaming. Sports betting in Florida specifically “is part of the discussions,” said Galvano.

The issue mainly lies in the fact that if the tribe are able to expand their exclusivity over gambling operations in Florida, the state would naturally look to receive higher payments.

“The revenue share is at the heart of any agreement that we have with the Seminole Tribe, so that’s one of the key drivers. So if we are able to reach an accord, there will be sufficient funds that the tribe will share. They’re currently paying close to $350 million a year. We would expect more,” said Galvano.

The window for implementing these changes is closing rapidly. In order a new deal to be put in place, not only will the tribe have to sign off, but so will the Florida House of Representatives and current Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

With less than a month left in this legislative session, Florida lawmakers, the Seminole Tribe, and Governor Desantis will have to act fast in order to secure the state budget or expand it by getting a head start in joining other states that offer sports betting.

News tags: | |