Florida Sports Betting Closer to Reality As Governor, Seminole Sign New Compact
Florida sports betting is close to the finishing lines following a successful deal between the state governor and the gaming tribe. On Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe signed a new gaming compact in a move that could bring mobile betting to the state.
However, the new compact requires legislative approval in the Sunshine State and that of the federal government. Though the new gaming compact may face legal challenges, it marks a significant breakthrough for the third-most-populous state in the US.
In a vague statement, Senate President Wilton Simpson’s office also confirmed statewide online and retail sports betting “in partnership with the pari-mutuels” is included.
Key Details of New Florida Gaming Compact
The 75-page compact includes the new 30-year term and covers sports betting, daily fantasy, and the addition of craps and roulette to tribal casinos. It also sets the legal age at 21 and details the workable arrangement between the Seminoles and the pari-mutuels for sports betting.
The pact allows betting on all professional, college, and Olympic sports, with the notable exception of prop bets on college sports. Problem gambling guidelines are also included in the new document.
The new gaming compact also includes additional facilities on the Seminole tribe’s Hollywood reservation, and statewide mobile sports betting in partnership with the pari-mutuels.
Seminole’s Exclusivity Over Florida Sports Betting
Under the agreement, the tribe would have exclusive control over sports betting, which the Seminoles could offer at its own casinos, and through pari-mutuels and its platform, Hard Rock Digital.
It is unclear how many mobile sportsbooks will be allowed in Florida, or what would be the tax rate on sports betting revenue. The state’s 35 pari-mutuel operators could be allowed to operate mobile sports betting. But they would have to share 55% of the revenue to the Seminoles, and the serves would be located on tribal lands.
In-person sports betting would also be allowed at other sporting venues, including professional arenas and stadiums.
The new compact now heads to the state legislature, where Florida lawmakers must approve it in a special session the week of May 17. Then the federal government’s Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs requires to approve the document and post it to the Federal Register.
DeSantis said in a statement that this historic compact expands economic opportunity and bolsters the fiscal success of the state by benefiting all Floridians and Seminoles alike.
“Our agreement establishes the framework to generate billions in untapped revenue and untold waves of positive economic impact.”
With nearly 21.5 million people, Florida would be the largest state with regulated sports betting. New York, with about 19.45 million residents is currently working to kick off its mobile sports betting market. California and Texas have higher populations, but both states lag in the process of legalization.
Senate President Wilton Simpson said that the compact would maximize revenue for the Sunshine State, creating a $2.5 billion revenue-sharing guarantee in the first five years.
The new compact could face legal challenges because a 2018 constitutional amendment in the state requires statewide voter approval to expand gambling.
However, the deal is likely to generate nearly $500 million in annual revenues from the tribe, up from $350 million or so for the same period that the Seminoles had been paying to the state under the previous deal until the tribe refused to pay following a dispute with the state.
About the Seminole Tribe
The Seminoles own and operate seven casinos across Florida, some of them under the Hard Rock banner. By signing the new pact, the tribe will reinstate gaming payments to Florida State, which they suspended in 2019 after the Seminoles said the state violated the existing pact by allowing card games at commercial card rooms.
At the time, the Seminoles were paying $350 million in annual payments. But with the addition of sports betting and some other games, the tribe’s annual payments to the state could swell to $600 million.
In March, it was first known that negotiations between DeSantis and the Seminoles are taking definite shape. On Thursday, it became clear that the renegotiated deal would be signed Friday.