TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Although a Florida sports gambling bill will be introduced later this month, it faces many hurdles before it can pass.
State Senate President Bill Galvano unveiled that he is planning on submitting a new sports wagering bill in the Senate. He has tried in the past to expand gambling in the Sunshine State, but those attempts have ended in failure.
Amendment 3 Could Prevent Sports Betting
It has only gotten harder for Galvano to pass legislation that allows gambling on sports. This past November, voters in Florida passed Amendment 3 - the “Voter Control of Gambling” amendment. This makes it so that any expansion on casino gambling needs to be approved by a statewide ballot. That means if a casino wants to expand operations or have a new one built in Miami, Orlando residents can have a say if that can happen or not.
Galvano believes that he can he can pass a sports wagering bill without a referendum. He argues that sports gambling exists in a different world from casino gaming, so he is allowed to pass legislation that would legalize wagering on sports. Galvano faces major opposition against that argument.
One of the opponents that he has to face is John Sowinski, president of Voters in Charge. Sowinski states that because of Amendment 3, “only Florida voters, by constitutional initiative, have the authority to authorize any form of casino gambling, including sports betting.”
He also said that any attempt to go around Amendment 3 “is patently unconstitutional and an affront of the will of the people.” Sowinski believes that any legislation that applies to sports gambling must go through a referendum first, even if it’s not required by law. Along with Sowinski, Disney and the Seminole tribe are highly opposed to wagering on sports.
Disney And Seminole Tribe Against Sports Gambling
Disney and the Seminole Tribe spent $20 million and $24 million respectively to help make sure Florida residents would vote for Amendment 3. Disney wants the Sunshine State to appear more family-friendly and wants to get rid of tourist competition as much as possible. The Seminole Tribe is opposed to any expansion to gambling that is outside of their reservations. They seek to keep the status quo in Florida.
One of the key points of Amendment 3 is that the rules do not apply to gambling on tribal lands. The tribes are allowed to expand gambling on their lands as much as they want. The Seminoles have stated that if lawmakers decide to legalize sports wagering, they would consider withholding revenue share payments from the state.
Even though there are many entities against sports gambling in Florida, Galvano plans on introducing his legislation to the Senate by the end of the month. If things go the way he plans, he could legalize sports betting without a state-wide referendum. If not, it will be up to the voters to decide if Florida will have sports gambling - or the legislation can fail to make it past the Senate.