Florida Sports Betting Approved By Senate In Seminole Compact

Posted on May 18, 2021
Florida sports betting

Florida sports betting received Senate approval Tuesday as part of the larger gaming compact with the Seminole Indians.

The compact still needs to be approved by the House, which could happen Wednesday.

Also notable from Tuesday‘s special Senate session was the fact Sen. Travis Hutson did not bring a daily fantasy sports bill to the floor. That bill, which was opposed by both DraftKings and FanDuel, is dead until next year.

Sports betting in Florida – if it survives likely upcoming legal challenges – can start after Oct. 15. That also assumes the compact is approved by the federal government.

Florida sports betting not a hot topic on floor

The Senate debated multiple gaming bills for more than two hours but talked very little about Florida sports betting during the compact bill.

Much of that debate happened Monday at the Senate Appropriations Committee. That is when Seminole Gaming CEO Jim Allen shared that both DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook already submitted proposals to work with the Seminole in Florida.

Allen said he has also met with Barstool Sportsbook and “many of the other companies.”

The Seminole Indians will share 13.75% of sports betting revenue with the state. That is as long as the Seminole sign sports betting contracts with at least three parimutuel operators in the state within three months.

Without those agreements – which would let parimutuels launch skins of their own but keep all bets on the Seminole server – that revenue share would increase by 2% until such deals are in place. That small of an increase would be enough for the Stronach Group to consider keeping exclusivity, Mike Rogers of Gulfstream Park said.

Senate president expects lawsuit

The compact could face challenges on a few fronts, including as an illegal expansion of gaming based on a constitutional amendment passed in 2018 that gives Florida voters the right to approve casino expansion.

Whether for that reason or another, Sen. President Wilton Simpson is ready for the compact to be challenged:

“According to the folks who did not want it to pass, there’s 100% possibility that it will end up in a court somewhere.”

Simpson said it is not up to the legislature to worry about whether something will be challenged in court. He added he has “a lot of confidence” the compact will hold up in court.

If FL sports betting is challenged, that is an issue for the Seminole, Allen said Monday.

FL DFS bill killed

Hutson’s S 16-A did not come up for passage Tuesday. There was just too much work to be done, Hutson told the Herald:

“We are just too far off to try and deal with this bill in the next three hours.”

Simpson told reporters after the Senate session that his chamber was prepared to pass the DFS bill, but there were differences between the Senate and the House.

Scott Ward represented both DraftKings and FanDuel to voice their opposition to the bill in House and Senate hearings Monday . The bill had a few problems that still needed to be addressed, according to Ward:

  • Adding a clause that said operating without a license was allowed while waiting to obtain a license. Without it, the companies would have to pull out of Florida so they did not jeopardize their licenses in other states.
  • Allowing contests on college fantasy sports.
  • Removing requirements on entry limits.
  • Dropping the legal age to 18 from 21.
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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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