- No sports betting bill has been filed in Florida yet.
- State lawmakers are working with the Seminole Tribe find an agreement.
- Sports betting is unlikely to happen in 2019.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida lawmakers held discussions with the Seminole Tribe on Wednesday to talk about sports betting in the Sunshine State.
No Deal Just Yet
With the compact between the state and the Seminole Tribe needing to be re-negotiated, lawmakers are starting to discuss the possibility of sports betting with the Tribe. The Seminole Tribe pays about $350 million a year to the state for the compact. That agreement ends soon and now they need to decide how much they should pay after the current agreement and what else could be added to the compact.
This is why sports betting is starting to enter the discussions. The Seminole Tribe could end up being the entity that offers sportsbooks in the Sunshine State. So far, no deal has been reached between in regards to sports betting. State Senate President Bill Galvano does seem hopeful about future negotiations.
Control Over Gambling
There has not been any expansion in gambling in Florida in the past couple of years. Most attempts have failed and gambling expansion have gotten harder. In the 2018 election, Florida voters passed Amendment 3 which made it so that a statewide referendum would need to be held to open a new casino.
The Seminole Tribe spent $24 million to help make sure the amendment passed. Now people in Tallahassee would have a say if a casino were to open or not in Gainesville.
They have also sued the state for any infringement on their gaming compact. The Tribe sued the state because racinos were using a “designated player” system to try to get around the fact that only the Tribe could offer blackjack. The court ruled in favor of the Tribe and they are the only ones who can offer blackjack in Florida.
As illustrated, the Seminole Tribe has a strong hold on gambling in Florida. Lawmakers are going to need to convince the Tribe to allow for sportsbetting in Florida to happen. The likely scenario to make that happen is to allow the Tribe exclusive rights to open sportsbooks. The legislative session ends on May 3, so it is unlikely we are going to see sportsbooks open in the Sunshine State in 2019.