On Tuesday (May 18), Florida Sports betting was approved by the Senate as part of the larger gaming compact with the Seminole Indians. This compact will still need approval by the House and it is likely to happen on the following week, Wednesday.
Florida is just one of the many states that are now working on legalizing and regulating local sports betting since 2018. In May 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States has stricken down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992. This made sports betting federally legal and each state has the power to decide whether they would like to regulate this gambling activity or not.
Today, there are already over 20 states with legal sports betting and this number is expected to rise by the end of this year. Many are hoping that Florida will finally have legal local sports betting operations before the year ends. By the looks of things, it is possible that FL will have sports betting before 2021 ends. The locals should be able to access the best sites to bet on sports soon.
More Approvals to Come
Even if the senate has already approved sports betting in the state of Florida, it still has to go through a couple more approvals. The House will still have to approve it and that is only when Governor Ron DeSantis will have the new compact with the Seminole Indians be signed on his desk.
However, it doesn’t stop there. Typically, a governor’s signature is already the final step for a sports betting bill to be approved in most states but this isn’t applicable for Florida. Since this is being legalized through a tribal compact, FL sports betting will still require federal approval.
The Department of Interior will be receiving the compact after Governor DeSantis sign it. Once they already have the compact, there will be a 45-day window which means that the approval could take place in July. However, approval is still not guaranteed with the governor’s signature.
The Department of Interior may have to scrutinize the sports betting section of the compact and look for prior rulings that could contradict what the compact already has. Legal problems are also expected to arise as the process continues.
In fact, Senate President Wilton Simpson is expecting a lawsuit that could point to the expansion of gaming in the state as illegal based on the constitutional amendment passed in 2018. According to this, Florida voters have the right to approve the state’s casino and gaming expansion.
Senator Simpson said, “According to the folks who did not want it to pass, there’s 100% possibility that it will end up in a court somewhere.”
However, the senate president is ready for the compact to be challenged. He said that it is not up to the legislature to worry about whether something will be challenged in court. He has a lot of confidence that the current compact will hold up in court.
The Seminole Gaming CEO Jim Allen seems to agree. Allen said that if the state’s sports betting will be challenged, it is rather an issue for the Seminoles themselves. During the debate this week, Allen also spoke about certain updates regarding the matter.
Allen shared that DraftKings and FanDuel Sportsbooks have already submitted proposals to work with the Seminole in Florida. He also shared that he has also met with many other companies including Barstool Sportsbook to talk about business.
According to him, the Seminole Indians will have a share of 13.75 percent of the sports betting revenue in the state. This will only happen as long as the Seminole sign sports betting contracts with at least three parimutuel operators within the next three months after sports betting is signed federally.
What the House is Saying So Far
There are already multiple House members who are expecting that the sports betting section of the current compact will be heard in court. The likes of House Speaker Chris Sprowls is one of the members who is leaning towards allowing this activity in Florida.
Sprowls said while agreeing to similar views, “I think that is an open question. I think that reasonable people disagree. Some people have looked at it and said hey I don’t think it’s going to make it. I’ve looked at it, I think it will… The reality is that’s going to be resolved by a court. We expect that this is probably going to be litigated.”
Representative Sam Garrison who is a co-sponsor of the House bill to approve the compact said that they are all expecting that the compact will likely be mitigated. He said that it is, after all, an open legal question.
Despite the process that the Seminole compact will still have to go through for FL sports betting to happen, things are still looking up. If things go the way that sports betting supporters and advocates are hoping for, then FL may have live sports betting by October.