Florida Senate Approves Sports Betting Compact
Legal Sports betting is edging closer in Florida after the Senate passes a new gaming compact.
Tuesday turned out to be a pivotal day in the journey towards legal sports betting in Florida. It was the day the full Florida Senate approved a historic gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe. This compact will allow residents to place legal sports wagers in the nation’s third-most populous state.
The Senate overwhelmingly voted to pass the compact, with the final result coming in at 38-1. Legislators will gather for a special session this week in Tallahassee to discuss the compact and a series of related bills relating to gambling in the Sunshine State. Two bills revolving around fantasy sports and bingo did not get out of committee.
Additionally, the House Select Subcommittee on the Seminole Gaming Compact gave its seal of approval on the compact on Monday. The full house will continue to review the other related bills via committee, with a full session scheduled for Wednesday. Both the Senate and the full house must approve the compact for sports betting to be legalized in Florida.
If sports betting gets the green light, Florida, which has a population of 21.48 million, would be the most populated state to have a legal sports betting market since the 2018 Supreme Court decision. New York has approximately 19.45 million inhabitants. The two states with a higher population than Florida, California, and Texas, are not currently close to legalizing sports betting. If everything goes to plan, legal sports betting will not get underway in Florida earlier than October 15.
Despite there being a lot of talk before the session about the potential legislative pitfalls for gambling bills and the compact, both were unanimously approved by committees in both the Senate and House. In addition, two potential obstacles were removed before the special session began.
First, the Seminole Tribe of Florida and Gov. Ron DeSantis agreed to drop online casino gaming. Additionally, a bill that would have regulated fantasy sports in the Sunshine State failed to get off the ground on Tuesday when the House and Senate could not agree on how it would progress. The bill would have seen players aged 21 or over be able to play fantasy sports for money in Florida. Despite intense lobbying efforts from DraftKings and FanDuel, the bill died on Tuesday.
The Steps Ahead Before Florida Legalizes Sports Betting
The journey towards legal sports wagering in Florida won’t end with the special session. Any gambling agreement between the Seminole Tribe and the state must also get the nod by the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC). This body is an independent federal agency. Additionally, the regulatory structure for Indian gaming in the U.S must also give their approval before any gambling bill can progress.
It is expected that numerous lawsuits will be filed as soon as any deal is approved. In 2018, Florida residents voted to approve Amendment 3, which doesn’t allow gambling expansion in Florida without first getting approval via referendum.
The Seminole Tribe has been putting a lot of effort into supporting the new compact. They have been airing ads on TV and focusing on the potential increase in tax revenue the state would collect and new jobs that a legal sports betting industry would create.
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