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Florida Inching in on Legalized Sports Betting

Florida took a significant step towards legal sports wagering last week when Governor Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe crafted a new tribal compact dealing with sports wagering. The Seminole Tribe and Governor DeSantis negotiated to reach a deal, but sports betting is still not legal.

The compact was a significant first step, but the Florida legislature needs to pass a bill legalizing sports wagering.

The Agreement Between the Seminoles and DeSantis

The Seminole Tribe and Governor DeSantis were not on the same page since he became the governor in 2019. The Seminole Tribe created a deal with the former governor that DeSantis refused to sign when he became governor.

This caused an array of tension between the tribe and state, making citizens question if Florida would ever pass a sports betting bill. The compact details have not been confirmed, but both sides have expressed their joy for the deal being reached.

Seminole Tribe Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr. said that the tribe and governor reached a “historic agreement that cements our partnership with the state for decades to come.” He went onto say, “The Seminole Tribe of Florida is committed to a mutually beneficial gaming compact with the State of Florida and looks forward to its approval by the Florida Legislature, the Seminole Tribal Council, and the U.S. Department of the Interior.”

Future Hurdles

Even though a new compact is in motion, there are still hurdles in the future. The compact has not been confirmed, and this will not happen until the middle of May. The compact will get approved, but the legislature has not been able to read the exact details of the compact.

The compact language would help the legislature craft an appropriate bill, but they will not have this luxury. They cannot wait if the chambers want to pass a bill by the end of the 2021 legislative session.

Florida’s legislative session ends on April 30, 2021, so a special session is likely for sports betting negotiations. A deal may be reached in the House and Senate by the end of the month, but it’s unlikely.

House Speaker Chris Sprowls has already said that the legislature is determined to pass a sports betting bill in time for football season. For sports betting to be enacted by the summer, a deal would need to get done soon, so he is willing to call a special session.

After the compact news was announced, Sprowls told the media that “Once we actually get to see the words on the page, I would anticipate that there may be a special session to address those issues.”

The Future of Sports Betting in Florida

According to rumors from the compact, the tribe would receive the biggest benefit. They would be allowed to build retail books and control the online wagering platforms in the state. However, Florida would still earn a significant amount of tax revenue.

There have been estimates that the state will receive $6 billion by 2030, $2.5 billion in the first five years of the deal, and $500 million annually. Florida has the potential to be an extensive betting market based on these early estimates.

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