Opinion: Five Aspects of the Florida Compact Worth A Look

Posted on May 13, 2021
Florida sports betting
Posted By on May 13, 2021

What’s next in Florida sports betting?

The future of the new gambling compact between the Seminole Tribe of Florida and Gov. Ron DeSantis sits on uncertain legal ground, at least the aspects of the agreement that would bring mobile betting to the Sunshine State.

While more details are likely to come out about how the two sides plan to navigate some potential obstacles when the legislature comes back for a special session next week, it is worth taking a deeper dive into a few key aspects of the compact itself.

The compact in the big picture

If approved and it survives all legal challenges (a big if at this point,) the new agreement reached between DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe of Florida would set the stage for 30 years of revenue sharing.

The tribe would get the ability to add craps and roulette to their casino offerings, as well as the ability to add facilities at their Hollywood reservation. The agreement would bring both mobile and retail sports betting to tribal properties, as well as set in place a process for Florida sports betting to be available at pari-mutuel facilities.

In exchange for the 30 years of near-monopoly on gaming, the state receives the most generous tribal revenue-sharing agreement in the country, totaling at least $6 billion by the end of the decade.

Within the compact, there are a number of interesting clauses or provisions that have largely flown under the radar. We’ve picked out five to review:

1) The Florida sports betting definition

The Florida-Seminole Tribe compact defines sports betting to mean wagering on any past or future professional sport or athletic event, competition, or contest … as well as including Olympic and international sports events, collegiate sporting events (though prop bets are limited on college sports), and motor-vehicle racing.

The definition does not include daily fantasy sports contests.

The extension of wagering to past sporting events is interesting because the compact appears to address historical horse racing separately, potentially indicating a desire to offer historical wagering on other sports in the future.

2) Data must be complete, accurate, reliable, but not official

The compact appears to have been spared the onslaught of pressure to adopt language requiring that in-play bets be settled using official league data.

The compact instead states:

Any data source and the corresponding data to determine the results of all sports bets must be (i) complete, accurate, reliable, timely, and available and (ii) appropriate to settle the types of events and wagers for which it is used.

These requirements can almost certainly be fulfilled by reputable data companies who might lack official league sanctioning, but nonetheless offer a dependable and reliable product.

3) The compact addresses fantasy sports

For years, fantasy sports in Florida have been shrouded under an opinion from the state’s attorney general in the 1990s, which indicated that the games likely ran afoul of state gambling law.

The compact adds some clarity here, adopting a close variation of the multi-pronged definition from the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA.) One key modification is that the compact excludes fantasy sports on the participants of college, high school, or youth sporting events.

The prize pool for a single season for a non-commercial contest operator, however, appears limited to $1,500 per season or $10,000 per calendar year.

Fantasy sports games are also excluded from the tribe’s substantial exclusivity agreements.

4) A lot of rules to come

Part V of the compact details that many of the rules governing sports betting are still to come, but it is already established that bettors will have to be over 21 years old.

However, how exactly to handle promotional credits, incentives, bonuses, and other benefits to bettors is to be determined.

The agreement does specify that the tribe and pari-mutuel operators are to treat these promos equally.

5) Already agreement to meet about the next agreement

In Part XVIII of the compact, listed as a miscellaneous item, is a provision where the state and the tribe agree to meet within the 36 months after the compact appears in the Federal Register and begin good-faith negotiations on offering all types of mobile wagering.

The agreement to meet and discuss iGaming is obviously a potentially huge deal in the future, especially as the numbers continue to grow in states like Michigan where they elected to launch iGaming alongside sports betting.

A lot still needs to play out

There are some very exciting aspects in the compact, some that would not only bring sports betting to Florida but also appear to clear up some long-standing issues surrounding fantasy sports.

Perhaps, the most positive aspect of the new compact is the agreement to meet again and negotiate in good faith towards offering other forms of iGaming. This is hopefully a turn towards a more amicable relationship following the state’s alleged breach of the previous agreement that saw the tribe suspend revenue-sharing payments.

All of this, of course, depends on this compact going into effect, something that faces numerous obstacles over the coming weeks and months.

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John Holden

John Holden J.D. / Ph.D. is an academic. His research focuses on policy issues surrounding sports corruption.

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