It appears all the talk around Florida sports betting might actually be more than talk this time.
As the 2021 legislative session draws to a close, Politico reported this morning the state is “poised to approve” a substantial gambling deal with the Seminole Tribe that would include sports betting. The Miami Herald also reported a deal had been agreed in principle.
Gaming lobbyist Bill Pascrell III said the sides had made “tremendous progress.” Pascrell told LSR:
“I wouldn’t say it’s 100% but we have a good opportunity to get this across the goal line.”
What’s the state of sports betting in Florida?
The state and the tribes are looking to reach a new gaming compact after the tribe ceased paying the state $330 million a year in 2019 over a dispute about card games.
The new compact would also set out a framework for FL sports betting.
Pascrell said he was hopeful of a deal that was good for all stakeholders, including the sports betting industry.
The Miami Herald reported the Seminole would take a cut of every sports bet placed, both online and retail.
Wagering would also be available at casinos run by the tribe and pari-mutuel facilities.
What is the timeline?
The sides might announce a deal by the end of the week, the Herald said.
From there, it would need to be approved by the state legislature. That 2021 session ends this week, but a special session could be held in May.
Even that extension only leaves five weeks to agree a deal and get it approved.
The time pressure could potentially favor the Seminole. The tribe is happy to wait for sports betting, while the state is eager to resume taking its revenue share payments.
Details in the FL gambling compact
Of course, the compact covers far more than just mobile sports betting in Florida.
Beyond the card game issue, the two sides have disagreed about the construction of a new non-tribal casino in Miami Beach. Another issue within the negotiations is how betting profits would be split between Seminole and pari-mutuel operations.
There is also a legal question whether the deal would violate the FL constitutional amendment passed in 2018 that requires voter approval of all new games unless they are authorized in a compact.
Of course, the recent New York mobile sports betting law faced some similar questions and has not yet faced a legal challenge.
All told, despite a myriad of potential stumbling blocks, Florida sports betting could yet become a reality in 2021.