TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida Senate President Bill Galvano plans to introduce a sports betting bill during Florida’s 2019 legislative session, which starts on March 5th. The bill would also include other facets of the gambling industry.
Florida gambling is currently regulated to tribal casinos–with dog racing no longer available. The Seminole Indian Tribe, owner of the Hard Rock brand of the hotels and casinos across the globe, would benefit from this expansive gambling bill. The Seminole Indian Tribe has invested a large sum of money into their hotels and casinos.
“They have made a tremendous investment, billions of dollars in their facilities, but yet they still lack craps and roulette games that are traditionally in casinos of that magnitude,” Galvano said.
Galvano, in addition to his gambling bill, also wants to present new terms and alter the existing Seminole Compact. The deal—in exchange for the Seminole Tribe having exclusive rights to offer black and slot machines throughout Florida—would guarantee the state $3 billion dollars over the next seven years. The money would come from the Tribe paying the state a cut of their revenue from their blackjack tables.
Existing state-tribal compacts have not been formally renewed, but the Tribe still pays the state a cut of their blackjack revenue. Signing new agreements, paired with Galvano’s bill, would greatly broaden the Seminole Tribes gambling reach.
“I know they would like to see that,” stated Galvano. “They have an interest, as I understand, in offering sports betting and they do want stability because they can operate and work with their financiers in a more stable environment and they can point to an agreement that is not in flux, so to speak.”
According to Bill Galvano, the bill would also include a more all-encompassing impact on the state pari-mutuels. Galvano also noted that, in addition to sports gambling in Florida, the bills others gambling related issues could still be addressed by the legislature. The legislation, planned to be completed by the end of February, would be a major advancement for Florida gambling.
Galvano may face trouble passing his bill, according to John Sowinski, president of Voters in Charge. He will have to deal with Amendment 3, which was just passed into law by Florida voters last year.
“Only Florida voters, by constitutional initiative, have the authority to authorize any form of casino gambling including sports betting,” states Sowinski.
The proposed bill could cause drastic changes to Florida gambling if passed, and possibly incur litigation as well, since the bill would violate a constitutional amendment. Time will tell as things move forward or halt in the legislative process.