Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis came to terms on a new Tribal Gaming Compact with the Seminole Tribe a few weeks back. The terms of the new 30-year deal called for the expansion of gambling. Table games such as roulette and craps can be added to the existing Seminole casinos in the state.
Another provision cleared the path for legal sports betting
The Florida legislature then took up the issue. Just this past week, they signed off on a bill that approved these expansion plans. Given that the Seminole Tribe currently controls casino gambling in the state, federal regulators must still approve everything.
The issue at hand for federal regulators is the new revenue-share portion of the compact. The state stands to make $500 million a year from the new deal. Regulators need to determine if this is a fair number for the Tribe. The US Department of the Interior has 45 days to render a decision on the matter.
Another issue is the legality of this legislation in relation to the state constitution
Amendments to the Florida Constitution are usually approved through a state-wide voting referendum. The proposed gambling expansion could face any number of lawsuits given the way it was quicky approved.
The Florida House overwhelmingly approved the bill by a vote of 97-17. The Senate had already approved the new compact with just one opposing vote verse 38 votes in favor. However, opposition to this expansion remains rather strong. This is especially true in the Miami-Dade area. Plans for casino expansion in this part of the state have gathered steam lately. Yet, it appears that area residents are strongly opposed to land-based casinos.
State Rep. Joe Geller is a Democrat representing Aventura. He was one of the 17 lawmakers voting against the new compact. He response to the results included:
“I don’t know if I’m more brokenhearted for my friends on the other side of the aisle that had to fall in line because you had to. And I’m sorry for you. Or if I’m more brokenhearted for members on my side of aisle who came up with every reason in the world to not stand together and make a point.”
He blamed the Republicans for negotiating a “bad deal.”
He was also disappointed with fellow Democrats for not voicing their opposition. Geller believes that a 30-year deal is too long. He also believes that the state is not getting enough in return. The Seminole Tribe could be the biggest winners given their strengthened monopoly over legal gambling in the state.
Despite all the potential hurdles Florida still faces, legal sports betting is set to launch on Oct. 15. It will be available through land-based retail sportsbooks tied to Florida’s Hard Rock Hotel & Casino locations. This will be extended to existing Florida race tracks and jai-alai frontons.
There is also a mobile betting component tied to the deal. The Tribe will work with three approved operators through mobile sportsbook apps.