DeSantis signs gambling bills into law
On Tuesday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation ratifying Florida’s gambling deal with the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which could bring sports betting to Florida plus craps, roulette, and similar casino games, provided the federal government approves the agreement.
One of the bills (SB 2-A) approves a 30-year compact signed by DeSantis and Seminole Tribe of Florida Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr. in April.
The legislation opens the door for sports betting in Florida by having the Seminoles serve as the state’s hub for sports betting. Pari-mutuel operators would contract with the tribe, and mandates that the Seminole Tribe enters into agreement with at least three pari-mutuels in the first three months after sports betting goes live.
The compact does not allow the launch of sports betting before Oct. 15.
Provided the compact receives the necessary endorsement by the U.S. Department of the Interior of a legal assumption embedded in the agreement — that bets made via cellphones are legal because the servers are located on Seminole land - the deal guarantees the state a $2.5 billion share of gambling proceeds to the state during the first five of its 30-year term.
Language in the compact would allow the rest of the deal to take effect if the cell phone clause were not to be approved by the feds, who have 45 days following ratification of the compact to sign off on the agreement, reject it or allow it to go into effect without the agency’s approval.
The other bill - SB 8-A - signed Tuesday could end to most live horse racing and jai alai games in Florida. Under the new legislation, pari-mutuel operators could drop harness racing, quarter-horse racing, and jai alai while keeping the more-lucrative card rooms and, in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, slot machines.
Opponents of casino gambling have promised a lawsuit because they believe the compact violates Amendment 3, the 2018 state constitutional amendment which requires voter approval of gambling expansions in the state.