Florida Sports Betting Still Under Discussion But Short On Time

Posted on April 16, 2021
Florida sports betting

Time is of the essence if Florida is going to legalize sports betting this year.

The 2021 legislative session adjourns April 30. That leaves little time for legislative leaders to reach an agreement with the Seminole Indians, draft legislation, and get everyone on board for votes.

Still, the effort to legalize sports betting in Florida is there, Senate President Wilton Simpson told other senators in a memo concerning other gaming issues:

“While ongoing negotiations with the Seminole Tribe have been productive and will continue, as we move into the final weeks of session, I would like to move forward with committee review of two key issues unrelated to the Compact.”

Will Florida be the next sports betting jackpot?

At this point in the year it seems sports betting in Texas is more likely to happen than Florida.

The sports betting industry covets four states as crown jewels:

  • California
  • Florida
  • New York
  • Texas

Mobile sports betting in New York was the first big surprise of 2021 – first for actually getting done and second for the unconventional model.

Legalizing sports betting in Texas is still in the preliminary stages as proponents and opponents offered testimony on multiple pieces of gaming legislation Wednesday evening. It will not be smooth sailing, though: Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick tried to kill any hopes of legalizing sports betting in February.

Texas still might have more of a chance than Florida, though. According to the Miami Herald, an offer to give the Seminole Indians sports betting in exchange for a non-tribal casino in Miami Beach was rejected Tuesday.

The biggest issue: the cut of sports betting profits split between the Seminole and pari-mutuel operations, the Herald reported.

Other gaming issues progress

While FL sports betting remains up in the air, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported other gaming issues favorably Thursday.

SB 7076 would legalize a five-member Gaming Control Commission with appointments made by the governor. The only stipulations would require one law enforcement officer, one accountant, and one attorney.

SB 7080 would no longer require pari-mutuel permit holders with cardrooms or slots to continue to offer harness racing, quarter horse racing or jai alai.

“Many of the industries out there have asked for decoupling,” Sen. Travis Huston said. “They’re having to do live performances in order to keep their parimutuel licenses for their card room or their slots.

“And if you look at things like jai alai, it is not a profitable business. So they’re losing money in order to keep their cardroom or their slot facility. So they’ve asked can we get rid of that provision because it’s just been in law for so many years.

LSR writer Pat Evans contributed to this report.

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Matthew Waters

Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.

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