The economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic is forcing many states to reassess strategies in regards to generating income, Florida, as well as the state of West Virginia online casino are proving that there seems to be no exception to the trend.
The Tampa Bay Times reported the Sunshine State will receive $16 billion from President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, which is more than enough to cover a budget deficit of $2 billion. But as is the case for many other states, the road to recovery will be long for Florida, where the profits to be had from sports betting are too vast to pass on in a post-COVID landscape.
The same longstanding obstacle remains that the Seminole Tribe—who control six of the seven Indian casinos in the state—have in place a compact of gambling exclusivity with Florida.
It remains illegal to place sports wagers in Florida, and after the Seminole pulled their annual payment of around $350 million to the state having failed to agree a new compact in 2019, with nothing liable to change until a new agreement is in place.
The Governor recently said state legislators were “getting close” to a new gambling deal with the Seminole Tribe, which could open up sports betting at certain casinos, race tracks and other venues in the state. The Miami Herald added DeSantis, along with Senate President Wilton Simpson and House Speaker Chris Sprowls, have been in private talks with the Seminole “for several months,” encouraging belief that this could finally be the push that makes sports betting a reality.
As the third-most populous state in the country—behind only California and Texas—it’s easy to see why Florida stands to benefit from joining the gambling revolution.
It’s also a motion that has bipartisan support among its politicians. State Representative Chip LaMarca teamed up alongside Democratic State Representative Anika Omphroy to promote two house bills that would form a foundation for businesses to operate through the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR):
There are other factors in play that could harm the push to legalize sports betting, not least of which is the prominent presence of Disney and citations in the Florida constitution that would limit gaming expansions. However, lawmakers continue to submit new legislature with confidence that the walls of resistance are wearing, and the Seminole Tribe issue is by a distance the biggest hurdle to overcome.
Tourism and casino revenue have suffered significant blows as a result of COVID-19, but this move would be one guaranteed to attract a new audience back to those sites. Just as many residents of New York travel to nearby New Jersey for their betting activity, Florida is currently losing potential revenue to neighbors Georgia, where certain online betting is already legal, reported Sportstalk Florida.
In an increasingly digital world, this kind of convenient alternative to in-person wagers makes a lot of sense as a money-maker in a state tangled in red tape.