On Friday, 4/23 big news emerged out of Florida as Governor Ron DeSantis announced that the state of Florida inked a gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe that establishes the framework needed to bring mobile sports betting to the state.
Governor DeSantis released a statement expressing his excitement for this monumental agreement — “this historic compact expands economic opportunity, tourism, and recreation, and bolsters the fiscal success of our state in one fell swoop for the benefit of all Floridians and Seminoles alike,” said Governor DeSantis. “Our agreement establishes the framework to generate billions in new revenue and untold waves of positive economic impact”.
In addition, Chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Marcellus Osceola Jr., also expressed his excitement and gratitude to the Governor and key state representatives — “the Tribe wants to express our sincere thanks to Governor DeSantis, Senate President Simpson, House Speaker Sprowls and many others who have worked hard to negotiate a historic agreement that cements our partnership with the state for decades to come.”
The economic impact is yet to take effect but the agreement is expected to help bring in over $2.5 billion dollars in new revenue for the state of Florida over the next five years and accumulate as high as $6 billion in revenue by 2030.
<h2>Specifics of the Seminole Gaming Compact</h2>
If the gaming compact becomes official and is ratified by the Florida Legislature and approved by the U.S. Department of Interior, it would legalize mobile or online sports betting throughout the state for anyone 21 years old or older. More importantly, the Seminole Tribe will have exclusive digital operator rights for Florida online sports betting over the next 30 years. In return, the tribe must pay the state of Florida a minimum of $500 million per year, which has the potential to increase depending on profits.
In addition to becoming the main operator for digital sportsbooks, the tribe can manage contracts with other pari-mutuel gaming operators who may make deals with sports betting apps like BetMGM Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook. The deal would enable the tribe to keep 40% of sports betting revenue from pari-mutuel operators, while the pari-mutuels that contract with the tribe would be entitled to keep 60% of their revenue.
The agreement also has retail implications as it would allow the Seminoles to add up to three additional facilities to their existing Hard Rock casino in Hollywood, FL and it authorizes the tribe to work with a third-party vendor such as MGM or Caesars to operate the facilities.
When Will Sports Betting Be Available in Florida?
Governor DeSantis is publicly targeting the rollout of legal sports betting in Florida by the start of the 2021 NFL season.
“Sports betting really is going on already. Why don’t we come together, put some structure to this, and let it be done in a way where the tribe is in control of the sports, and the state is able to share with some generous revenue payments,” DeSantis went on to state — “we are looking at this thing being hopefully operational by the summer. I think everyone wants it before football season, so that is going to be the goal.”
State legislators are expected to address the proposed compact around May 17th during a special session. However, other factors may delay both the approvals and implementation process as other pari-mutuel-related legislation will likely be needed and will be a large undertaking. Nevertheless, the compact is an excellent starting point and the idea of legal online sports betting in Florida seems to be just around the corner in late 2021.