William Hill Enters Florida With Casino Miami Race Book

Casino Miami, Florida

William Hill US is set to launch betting on horse racing in Florida after signing a deal with Casino Miami.

The new William Hill Race Book is scheduled to open before the end of 2019, subject to regulatory approval, and will feature 10 TV screens in addition to a 30ft video wall, allowing fans to watch a variety of race tracks simultaneously.

At its opening, the Race Book will offer pari-mutuel simulcast wagering on thoroughbred and harness horse racing, as well as greyhound racing and Jai Alai from across the country.

The renovation will modernise the existing 2,300 square foot space next to the casino’s poker room, with seating consisting of a mix of high-top tables with plush chairs and 30 race carrells.

Casino Miami is a great location with a modern space where we have created a first-class experience for all racing fans in the area, said Joe Asher, CEO of William Hill US. We look forward to working with Phil Ruffin [Casino Miami Owner] and his team to enable our customers to bet on races from across the country.

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Not only does the launch mark William Hill’s first Florida venture in its 85-year history, it additionally provides the organisation with a primed spot should sports betting be legalized in the state.

Well, the odds on that happening just got better as a result of this partnership, according to one New Jersey-based professional gambler with over 8,000 plus followers on Twitter. See more on New Jersey news here

Florida sports betting bills filed for 2020

The announcement of the new William Hill Race Book comes at a time when a Florida lawmaker has introduced new sports betting legislation.

Sen. Jeff Brandes has filed three bills: one pertaining to the matter of sports betting in the state; one addressing the associated licensing and fees; and the other outlining related taxes.

Senator Jeff Brandes

Sen. Jeff Brandes

Under the bills, the Florida Lottery will be tasked with overseeing the industry. The lottery will also be able to license third-party sportsbook operators, who will have the opportunity to offer their services in retail locations as well as online.

Previously, any efforts to introduce sports betting in the Sunshine State have involved the Seminole Tribe, which operates seven Hard Rock-branded casinos in the state and believes it has an exclusive right to offer Florida sports betting.

Earlier this year, lawmakers had pushed legislation that would have allowed the Tribe to offer sports betting at its casinos, while permitting pari-mutuel operators to introduce sports betting kiosks, with the Tribe getting a share of the revenue.

However that legislation failed, resulting in a stalemate between the Tribe and the state.

Brandes’ bills don’t specifically mention the Seminole, although he insists he’s not looking to exclude them.

The goal of this legislation is to start the conversation, Brandes said. I think there will be many iterations of the legislation over the next three months.

Florida’s next legislative session is due to start on Jan. 14 and end just 60 days later on March 13.

However, an amendment passed last year means that no gambling expansion in the state can happen without the approval of Florida voters, meaning the earliest vote will be in the November 2020 ballot.

A long road ahead

Clearly there is still a long road ahead before sports betting becomes legal in Florida, but Brandes’ recent efforts are a definite step in the right direction, and that’s kind of a big deal.

The state is a potential hotbed for sports betting given its population size and status as home to nine franchises from the four major professional sports leagues, as well as several top-tier college programs.

Furthermore, there are potentially huge economic benefits for Florida, with a study released by the America Gaming Association suggesting that legal sports wagering would drive $150 million annually into state coffers, while creating 3,800 new jobs.

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