Sports Betting Viewing Room – Courtesy: Shutterstock – Image by Nick_Nick
In a special session Wednesday, representatives in the Florida House gave 97-17 approval to an arrangement that Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe laid out last month.
The deal, which was approved yesterday by the Florida Senate with a 38-1 vote, is estimated to bring the state at least $2.5 billion in $500 million increments over the next five years. The Seminole Tribe has agreed to these terms in exchange for the rights to expand its current gambling operations in the state and includes craps, roulette, and sports betting.
The 30-year deal will now face review by the U.S. Interior Department to ensure the $500 million in revenue sharing is a fair and legal agreement for the state.
Once approved, Florida will become the largest state in the country to approve a gambling bill of this scale which allows the chance for sports gambling.
“Congratulations on a historic compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida,’’ said Rep. Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, pointing out “[it]was a difficult one to navigate.”
If the state gains federal approval and avoids any major litigation battles, Florida residents over the age of 21 can start placing mobile bets as early as Oct. 15.
In addition to the mobile bets, patrons attending the Hillsborough and Broward County Hard Rock casino locations will be able to have access to Las Vegas-style gambling that includes roulette and craps, both games which were previously illegal in the state.
Mobile sports betting will be allowed through online apps managed by the Tribe, as well as existing jai-alai locations and racetracks.
“We’re going to allow the Seminole Tribe to offer sports betting where you can you can be sitting in your bathtub or sitting on your couch, thinking about a football game, and you can make a wager, regardless of where you physically are, on your cell phone,’” said Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, the House chair of the Selecting Committee on Gaming.
The deal between the state and the Seminole Tribe marks the largest expansion in gaming in the Sunshine State in over a decade.
Based on the projected numbers, if the deal gains federal approval, operating full casino games will allow the Tribe to cover 80 percent of the guaranteed $500 million it must pay the state in revenue sharing. If the federal regulators also approve the sports gambling measure, Seminole Gaming CEO Jim Allen believes the remaining $100 million will be covered by that as well.
“Good deal or bad deal, it is the deal we have on the table, and I can’t in good conscious turn down the money,” said Sen. Anette Taddeo, D-Miami.
While scrutiny likely awaits in the coming weeks and months, it seems like Florida is one step closer to getting into the sports gambling game.
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William is a South Florida native with professional experience writing at the collegiate and national news outlet level. He loves fishing, playing soccer and watching sports in his spare time and is a fan of all South Florida teams.