Published On: Mon, Apr 13th, 2020

Sports Betting In Florida To Be Authorized Through Legislative Wildcard

Senate and House leaders have recently confirmed that they are currently trying their best to achieve an agreement with the governor to revisit Florida’s laws regarding gambling to start allowing sports betting organisations. This may be the ultimate legislative session wildcard and can be the Seminole Tribe’s  new huge source of revenue.

Senator Travis Hutson, R-Palm Coast stated with the Times that the Senate and House have recently kicked off a few informal conversations regarding what compacts and gaming bills can look like. He also shared that he and Bill Galvano, the Senate President, had also been working hard on coming up with a suitable proposal for the House, R-St.Cloud, House Speaker Jose Oliva and House Rep Mike LaRosa.

Hutson and LaRosa had already attempted to strike a deal regarding gaming back in 2018, although unfortunately they had failed. They say that they are doing their utmost best to develop a deal that would give the Seminole Tribe ( the owners of Hard Rock Casino ) the opportunity to modernize their gambling sector by opening online, giving them a much wider reach and the ability to restore their revenue sharing payments towards the state.

LaRossa stated that they are aiming to go after the big things,  and if they can set an agreement, they’ll start working on laying out the policy and the details, desperately hoping that they will accomplish something.

Along with the ongoing discussions, they have managed to discuss a plan which will allow the gaming house to carry on working on the operation of games which, according to a federal judge, ‘violated the Seminole Tribe’s no longer existing arrangement with the state’.

After the State’s unfortunate refusal to impose restrictions over games at dog, jai-alai and horse venues across the state, as negotiated in an agreement under former Governor Rick Scott, the Seminole Tribe refused to continue paying their revenue shares.

The loss of  $350 million in shared revenue left a void in the budget of the state.

Sports betting in Florida and other states was allowed by the U.S. Supreme Court with a ruling in a case in New Jersey a couple years ago. In , one can learn all about the current legal status which betting is in, depending on their state.

The state has to give the tribe special access to something which their competition don’t, in order for them to enter an agreement that involves revenue sharing with Florida. Betting on sports is seen by legislators as an opportunity to give the Tribe their unique, exclusive activity, which gives allowance to the pari-mutuels to increase state revenue by carrying on running their card games which previously caused controversy.

LaRosa stated that the choices involve extending the tribal casinos operating hours, granting them craps, roulette and/or sports betting. The Seminoles will act as the “home” for the sports gambling, operating sports books through their own facilities as well as cutting revenue from wagers placed at state-wide pari-mutuels.

Hutson stressed that since there are several variations of solutions accessible to negotiators, “very little has been established or published, and we are far from presenting anything to the governor so far.” “We are always communicating at a level of 100,000 feet,” he continued. “If we can’t expand there in consensus about what to show the governor without the Senate and the house, we’re not going to be presenting it.”

The Tribe’s arrangement is essential for the deal, LaRosa added. “They’ve rendered their stance pretty obvious and they’ve got to approve it.” Hutson acknowledged that if perhaps they just accept that they would still have to appear to eligible voters for authorization from around the state. In November 2018, a constitutional amendment was authorized through an election. It mandates a constitutional election on any proposal for legislation that broadens betting throughout Florida, except any development permitted under an agreement with a Native American tribe.

Hutson said, “As a constitutional amendment, anything we discuss, if extensive, will have to pass through an electorate”. Although, LaRosa added that the necessity of a referendum can be avoided with a tightly structured agreement that places expanding games in the hands of the Seminole Tribe.

He also stated that he might think of an agreement that could enable sports wagers to be placed at tracks and frontons around Florida, through a method, known as geo-fencing, through which bets would be sent via databases operated by the group,  and the payments occur on their property.

He then added that considering designated-player games are already ongoing, he does not think that it’s necessary to do anything as it relates to the third amendment.

A director of another casino, which had previously sponsored the third amendment and managed to achieve approval for it through a vote in 2018, stated that he thinks that every deal that states payments made outside of a tribal casino are approved because the server is on tribal territory, would face a challenge with law.

“Any judge would call [BS] on that,’’ he said. “If you don’t have [tribal] land in federal trust and just need a server, then it’s ‘Katie, bar the door.’ ”

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