Most forms of legal gaming in the state of Florida are currently controlled by the Seminole Tribe. This includes a network of Hard Rock casino venues. The tribe has been working with Gov. Ron DeSantis on an expanded gaming compact.
The big issue at hand was the inclusion of legal sports betting. News out of Tallahassee on April 23 points to a new gaming compact that has been approved by both parties. With the Seminole Tribe running all the gaming in the state, any new expansion needs to go through them.
The tribe did give its approval for online sports betting through mobile betting apps. However, this issue still needs to go through the legislative process. There may also be a need for a state-wide voter referendum for approval.
While legal sports betting is included in the wording of the compact, the state government did not get everything it was looking for.
The terms of the new agreement would set up a pair of online sports betting options. The Seminole Tribe would own both. There is speculation that one would be tied to the Hard Rock brand.
The other skin would be part of a bidding process between outside online sportsbook operators. Retail sportsbooks at existing casinos would also be allowed. Wording also suggests that sports betting could be offered at certain sports venues.
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A big part of the new compact is the expansion of the Seminole Tribe’s current casino industry in the state. Table games for craps and roulette would be expanded to all of their land-based casinos. The tribe would also have the ability to expand the number of gaming facilities it runs.
This expansion would also include legal card rooms in the state. The new compact covers the next 30 years in length. Another provision of the new agreement increases what the Seminole Tribe will have to pay the state in tax revenue and fees in order to maintain its current monopoly.
While the governor and the Seminole Tribe are in agreement over the terms of this new compact, there are some significant hurdles in place for it to be put into action.
As mentioned, all the changes and additions need to be approved by Florida lawmakers. The deadline for this year’s session is the end of May. This makes any changes this year problematic.
Many lawmakers were not in favor of giving the tribe a monopoly for legal sports betting. Many were looking for a broader number of operators in the state.
There is also an new amendment on the books that gives voters the right to approve any expansion of gaming through a referendum.
The Governor’s office as well as the Seminole Tribe are going to have a very difficult time in pushing this expansion through without a general voting referendum. Even if lawmakers pass the proper legislation to support these various forms of expansion, the public will seek its input into the matter.
Florida is viewed as a major US market for legal sports betting. This makes the overall approval process interesting to follow as it plays itself out.