Florida Sports Gambling Legislation Leveraged to Push Seminole Gambling Compact

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing attempts to solidify a new Seminole Compact to govern over tribal gambling and exclusivity rights on various forms of gambling in Florida altogether.  The compact’s exclusivity clause expired a few years ago and a series of events have prevented a new deal.  There have been various stalls and subsequent attempts to bring everyone back to the negotiation table though, including a push last summer over sports gambling exclusivity in a new Compact.  Given the coronavirus pandemic, more people were at home, spending more time online, so mobile sports gambling became a carrot to negotiations.  Those efforts also stalled and questions over the legality of its expansion in light of the voter approved Amendment requiring voter approval for gambling expansion were left unanswered.  Now, a similar effort is being made to leverage exclusivity in sports betting to bring everyone back to the gambling table.  An online source explains:

Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, filed three bills Monday that would allow the state’s lottery department to issue licenses and oversee legal sports wagering in Florida with revenue dedicated to education beginning Oct. 1, 2021.

Brandes’ Senate Bill 392 authorizes the state’s Department of the Lottery to operate a sports wagering program and lays out the parameters of how it would operate. SB 394 imposes a 15-percent tax on “sums received from a sports pool” and SB 396 establishes $100,000 application and renewal fees for state-issued sports wagering licenses.

Brandes’ 2021 proposals are similar to the trio of bills he introduced in the waning days of the 2020 legislative session as lawmakers prepared to leave Tallahassee in March without a new gaming pact with the Seminoles. The bills are essentially a prod to spur urgency in talks between Florida and the Tribe and to stop leaving money on the table – some estimates top $700 million annually – when the state’s current year and next year budgets face unanticipated pandemic-induced shortfalls.

The Seminole gaming compact remains in negotiation with the Tribe objecting to the state’s taking control of sports wagering, especially since such an expansion could be outlawed under the November 2018 passage of Amendment 3, which requires any “expansion of gambling” be approved by at least 60 percent of voters in a ballot measure.

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