Feds approve Florida-Seminole sports betting deal
Florida Gaming Compact with Seminole Tribe Gets Federal Seal of Approval.
Florida sports betting is back on track to commence on October 15, following the Department of Interior deciding to take no further action on the 30-year gaming compact between the Sunshine State and the Seminole Tribe. A 45-day consideration period to approve or reject the compact ended without any comments or decision. Consequently, the path has been cleared for its approval.
Unless there is a sudden change and a federal court gets involved, Florida will become the largest state in the US with legal sports betting when the compact comes into effect. In many quarters, the compact is seen as a significant victory for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is also a potential GOP presidential candidate in 2024. He negotiated the deal with the Tribe, which will see Florida receive a guaranteed $2.5 billion in revenue across the next five years. Additionally, DeSantis pushed for its approval in the state legislature via a special session in May.
A 12-page letter was published on Friday, revealing that the Interior Department said, “the compact is considered to have been approved by the operation of law.” The letter also stated that the compact would come into effect up “publication of notice in the Federal Register.”
Additionally, the letter reveals that the Compact “authorizes the Tribe to continue to conduct class III gaming on its lands.” However, the crucial detail can be found in the expansion plans, as the letter states the compact now “expands the allowable scope of gaming to include mobile sports betting, amongst other games.”
It also seems that sports wagering is exclusive to the Tribe and doesn’t allow third-party partnerships. This news would seemingly block out other sportsbook operators.
The compact also allows for the addition of roulette and craps at tribal casinos throughout the state. Florida will receive a minimum of $500 million in revenue payments stretching across the next five years under the deal. The payments are guaranteed even if any section of the compact, such as the online sports betting provision, is rejected by the courts.
Anybody who wants to participate in legal sports betting in Florida must be at least 21 years of age. This includes betting on pro and college sports, domestic and international events, and motor racing. Prop bets on college games would not be permitted.
Lawsuit Filed in Federal Court
The first lawsuit looking to strike down the Florida betting compact was filed by the owners of the Bonita Springs Poker Room and Miami’s Magic City Casino on July 2. The suit claims that any agreement allowing sports wagering outside of tribal lands violates the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
Sports betting away from Indian land and not in their casinos are permitted under the compact by a “hub-and-spoke” approach. This means the servers that run and process real bets are to be based on Indian land, even though those wagering would be located anywhere within Florida state lines.
Additionally, the pari-mutuel license holders continue to claim they will lose millions of dollars because bettors would choose to wager off-site using apps operated by the Tribe. They also feel the penalty provisions stated in the compact incentivize the Tribe not to collaborate with them in good faith.
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