Will Legal Sports Betting In Florida Be Included on Upcoming Gaming Compact?
Tallahassee, FL – The Florida gaming compact between the state and the Seminole tribe is set to expire in May of 2019 but the President of the Florida Senate, Bill Galvano, is doing everything in his power to ensure legal Florida sports betting is discussed on the new compact.
Galvano opened his press briefing this week by listing his top expectations for the 2019 sessions: school safety, infrastructure repair, and gambling. He has repeatedly mentioned the importance of bringing legal sports betting into Florida. “It's an activity that is occurring and just not regulated, and we are not collecting and sharing revenues from that activity,” Galvano said earlier this week.
Settling on the revenue sharing for the state gaming compact is never cut and dry, as many deals have been discussed and changed over the years. The current deal gives the Seminole Tribe the exclusive right to operate table games provided they pay their 26% casino gaming tax. This equates to a near $350 million contribution in gaming revenue.
However, the Seminole Tribe has felt that the state has not met its end of the deal and has not cracked down on the card rooms that are not operated by the tribe. This caused a threatening from the tribe to end their contributions and sports betting may be the next heated topic in the compact.
The Impact Of Amendment 3 In Florida
Galvano has not provided any specifics on what he would like to see legislators attempt to do in regards to sports betting but he has asked for a bill to be filed. Florida session begins March 5th and ends May 3rd, so any attempts of making it happen this year must be worked out in a near-rushed manor.
Better yet, Florida legislature has very limited power when it comes to gambling-related expansion as the state just passed “Amendment 3” which gives the power to the voters to finalize action on state-run gambling.
This amendment was supported mainly by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, who contributed $12 million in support of the amendment. The tribe operates seven of the eight tribal casinos in Florida and wishes to see their impact stay the same as they hold somewhat of a monopoly on casino gaming in the state.
The Future Of Sports Betting In Florida
Even if lawmakers can agree to some set of terms, it still remains in the hands of the voters who have the final say. A 60% pass on a statewide referenda will be the final barrier to overcome before sports betting can make its way to Florida and even that isn’t a definite.
But sports betting in Florida can be processed in a different path. With the tribe’s allowance and sole right to casino-gaming, the amendment was worded to keep the power within.
Attorney for the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Barry Richard, explains, “The amendment has an express exemption in it for Compacts with Indian tribes so the legislature is authorized to enter into an amendment of the Compact to expand gaming on the Seminole reservations.”
This would keep it out of Florida voters’ hands who, in 2018, took a step backward in the gambling department by setting up a phase-out of greyhound racing. We’ll keep our eyes on sports betting to see if it is treated in a similar fashion.
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