Deal may be nearing for Florida sports betting with new gaming compact
One of the largest states to not have legalized sports betting could be on its way to changing that reality.
As first reported this morning by Gary Fineout of Politico, and followed up with new information from Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald, a new gaming compact between lawmakers and the Seminole Tribe may be close, as Gov. Ron DeSantis has been personally involved in the negotiations that would legalize Florida sports betting.
Deal would make Florida sports betting legal
The new deal would bring sports betting to Florida, allow the Seminole Tribe casinos to offer roulette and craps, and allow the expansion of tribal casinos at several locations. Florida sports betting would be effectively run by the tribes and the state would get a share of the sports betting revenues, according to Fineout.
Klas added in her report that the tribe would act as a sports betting hub for booking agents who would be housed at professional sports stadiums, arenas, parimutuels and existing casinos. The state could see as much as a 55% share of the sports betting revenue in exchange for the tribe’s exclusive rights to run the program, she said.
The plan would inject needed cash into Florida’s ailing parimutuel industry by allowing it to operate mobile sports betting on existing sites in exchange for a cut of the proceeds of as much as 55%./2
— Mary Ellen Klas (@MaryEllenKlas) April 22, 2021
The tribe would also be allowed to add up to three new casinos on existing tribal property. She notes these would likely be located in Hollywood, Tampa and Brighton.
As a final agreement in the compact, the Seminole Tribe would not stand in the way of legislation to allow Jeffrey Soffer to transfer his casino license to the Fontainebleau Hotel on Miami Beach, she wrote.
Both Fineout and Klas noted an agreement is not yet official and both the state and tribal representatives have publicly stated that negotiations are still ongoing.
Florida online sports betting a matter of “when, not if”
This comes a day after Senator Jeff Brandes (R-26) told Saturday Down South that Florida online sports betting was only a matter of “when, not if.” Brandes did caution that the state should think carefully before handing over exclusive sports betting rights to the Seminole Tribe.
“I believe giving everything to the tribe would be a mistake for the state and we should look at a variety of different vendors for different types of gaming,” he said.
Brandes previously floated his own bill, SB 392, which circumvented Seminole Tribe participation in the online sports betting program by running sports betting purely through the state’s lottery. A related bill proposed by Brandes, SB 396, set an online sports betting license at $100,000, renewal fees at $100,000 and a 15% tax on sports betting revenue in the state.
Revenues generated from the bill would have bolstered education in the state, but Brandes’ bill ultimately not passed by Florida lawmakers.
Gaming compact negotiations have been close before
The discussion of legalized sports betting has been ongoing for years between the state and the Seminole Tribe.
A recent gaming compact that would have brought Seminole Tribe controlled sports betting to Florida and a new casino to Miami Beach. It would have also brought millions of dollars in annual payments to the state from the tribe, but that proposal was rejected earlier this month by the tribe, leaving the Sunshine State at an impasse.
The rejected compact included a deal for the Seminole Tribe to control sports betting in the state through a hub and spokes system, not a full-blown online sports betting system. Under that deal, sports bets would have been received and processed through servers located at tribal casinos, allowing gamblers to place bets at casinos or professional sports events, race tracks or poker rooms.
Professional sports franchises would have also had the opportunity to open in-facility sportsbooks for gamblers.
The agreement called for professional sport franchises and parimutuels to receive a cut of the sports betting revenue driven through these bets. However, an agreement on the revenue cut was not reached and the compact was denied.