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Florida legislature OK’s regulated sports betting

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill this week that will bring regulated sports betting to the United States’ third most populous state. It’s a move that some lawmakers say will fill gaping holes in the state’s budget. Other lawmakers, however, say that the bill is far too generous to the Seminole Indian Tribe, which will have all but a monopoly on Florida sports betting action.

Under the terms of SB 2A, the Seminole Indian Tribe will have a 30-year monopoly over regulated sports betting in the state of Florida. In exchange for that sweetheart deal, the Tribe is guaranteeing the State at least $500 million in shared revenue (though much of that revenue will come from new legalized craps and roulette games – which were also part of the deal). Other operators will be able to work in the state, but their participation will be more like a licensing arrangement made with the Seminoles, not the State of the Florida.

The measure is still subject to approval by the Department of the Interior (which has final say over changes in Indian gaming compacts) and is highly controversial in Florida. Governor DeSantis resorted to some pretty severe arm-twisting to get his fellow Republican behind the deal, but was ultimately successful. Critics of the compact say that Florida voters should have the final say over changes to the compact, per a recent ballot initiative giving them exactly that power.

Though significant legal challenges to the new rules are expected, it’s also expected that Florida residents will be able to place legal sports bets from mobile apps as soon as October, 2021.