Florida Opens Legislative Session with Sports Gambling Bills, but Can They Pass?

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to legalize sports betting in Florida.  Florida not only has championship caliber sports teams in the Buccaneers (2021 Super Bowl Champions), the Lightning (2020 Stanley Cup Champions) and Rays (2020 American League Champions), they also hosted the Super Bowl and were part of the NBA Bubble during the Covid-19 Lockdown.  So it’s no surprise that there are continual interests in legalizing sports betting in the Sunshine State.  The methods seem to change, but the results remain the same, no success. Last year’s legislative session saw attempts without success as well, and this year’s legislative session begins with renewed efforts and possibly some of the largest expanded sports gambling attempts yet.  An online source reports:

When the Florida State Legislature opens Tuesday morning, it will do so with sports wagering  as part of the docke

The latest trio of bills filed by Reps. Chip Lamarca and Anika Omphroy would allow for wagering a pro sports venues across Florida, including NFL stadiums (three), Major League Baseball parks (two), NHL arenas (two), NBA arenas (two), and Major League Soccer stadiums (four), sites that host PGA, LPGA, and PGA of America events, WNBA arenas, National Lacrosse League and Major League Lacrosse sites, and Indoor Football League venues. Besides that, sports betting would be available at tracks offering parimutuel betting (horse and dog), jai lai frontons and tribal casinos.

The legislation envisions in-person wagering at all mentioned sites, as well as statewide mobile wagering, though HB 1317 doesn’t specify how many skins each physical location would be entitled to. That said, if only one skin were allowed, Florida would still have more than 20 skins available, and that’s just counting digital platforms tethered to the pro venues identified in the bill.

The question remains however, will the key issues be addressed or will expanded gambling be held back?  The online source explains:

As lawmakers and the governor look to move forward and create hype about sports betting, the elephant in the room that no one seems to be addressing is Indian Country, which under its compacts has exclusivity for casino gaming. Tribal gaming dates to 1999 in Florida, when the Miccosukee Tribe opened its casino in suburban Miami. But the state’s biggest tribe is the Seminoles, who have six properties including two operated by Hard Rock.

For reasons unrelated to sports betting, the Seminoles in 2019 stopped paying the state $350 million a year from gaming revenue. At the time, the Seminoles claimed their gaming exclusivity was violated by banked card games that were allowed at the state’s racetracks and jai lai frontons. The current compact which was signed on April 7, 2010, allows the Seminoles to withhold payments if the compact is violated.

Before the Seminoles suspended payments in 2019, the tribe had reached a tentative agreement with Sen. Wilton Simpson that would have allowed sports betting at the Seminoles’ casino properties, as well as racetracks and jai alai frontons for an annual payment to the state of $700-$750 million. The deal ultimately collapsed. Then, last January, Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, filed HB 1195, a proposed compact, that would have granted the Seminoles exclusivity for online sports betting. While that bill proposed a more than two-fold step-up in annual payments to $750 million, the legislation never made it out of committee.

The hard truth for lawmakers is this: Until there is a compact, it’s highly unlikely that sports betting will gain a foothold in the legislature.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


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