There’s so much for people to do when they visit the state of Florida. The Sunshine State offers an endless supply of theme parks. From Walt Disney World to Epcot Center, Busch Gardens, Universal Orlando, Legoland and SeaWorld, the options are endless.
Of course, the beaches are spectacular, whether you opt for the Atlantic Ocean side with Miami, or the Gulf of Mexico coast at Tampa Bay, Clearwater and St. Petersburg.
Sports fans aren’t left out, either. There are NFL teams in Tampa Bay, Jacksonville and Miami, MLB and NHL clubs in Miami and Tampa Bay and NBA teams in Orlando and Miami. Should you want to place a wager on any of these games while visiting the Sunshine State, there appears to finally be some hope on the horizon. The legalization of Florida sports betting often seemed to be a dream, much like a Florida sunset. Well off in the distance and fading beyond the horizon. Suddenly, that’s no longer the case.
“DeSantis Rides” by WPLG is licensed under CC BY 3.0
DeSantis Rides To The Rescue
Talking sports analogies, credit Florida Governor Ron DeSantis with a save. Or was that a buzzer beater? Actually, it looks to be more like a Hail Mary.
Just when it seemed that any hope of getting all of those with a stake in the state’s gambling industry on the same page was about as likely as snow in July in Jacksonville, DeSantis somehow got all of the interested parties together and hammered out an agreement as the April 30th deadline for the end of the state legislature session neared.
On Friday, April 23rd, DeSantis signed a landmark gambling deal with the Seminole Tribe of Florida that should eventually bring legalized sports betting to the state. The deal still must be passed by the Florida Legislature. The state’s lawmakers will hash out this matter during a special session that will begin on May 17th.
“Sports betting in Florida is inevitable,” Fred Guzman, president and general manager of the Daytona Beach and Orange City Racing and Card Clubs, told the Orlando Sentinel. “It’s about time this happened.”
Both of these Central Florida poker rooms and parimutuel betting establishments are expected to become full-service sportsbooks if the Florida Legislature ratifies DeSantis’s plan.
Florida Could Be King Of American Sports Betting
With its demographics and designation as a travelling destination for so many people, there are those in the sports betting industry who are of the belief that Floridians and their guests could create the biggest sports betting state in the union. Predictions are that legal sports betting in Florida will generate billions in revenue and help to fill up the state’s tax coffers.
“DeSantis Rides” by Joey Roulette is licensed under CC BY 3.0
“If sports betting were to become legal in Florida, you’re looking at one of the most desirable markets in the country for operators,” Daniel Wallach, a nationally renowned sports gaming attorney based in Hallandale Beach, Fla., told the Orlando Sentinel. “Florida is the third-largest state in the country. You have the population, you have the tourism industry, you have the warm weather, you have so many professional sports teams.
“Florida would become a destination for sports betting in many ways similar to Las Vegas.”
What’s In The Deal They’ve Done?
The pact agreed to by DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe, who control almost all of the state’s casino industry, would see the Seminole Tribe offering statewide online sports betting in partnership with Florida’s pari-mutuel facilities. These include poker cardrooms, horse racing tracks and jai-alai arenas. The Seminole Tribe will also be permitted to offer craps and roulette at its casinos.
“I’m excited to announce the signing of a new compact between the State of Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which will generate the state $2.5 billion in new revenue over the next five years and $6 billion through 2030,” DeSantis posted on Twitter. “This historic compact expands economic opportunity, tourism and recreation, and bolsters the fiscal success of our state in one fell swoop for the benefit of all Floridians and Seminoles alike.”
There are still legal and political hurdles to clear before this ship will set sail. Even if the deal should be approved by the Florida Legislature, the federal government, via the Department of the Interior, must also sign off on it, as outlined by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. It’s uncertain whether online sportsbooks can legally operate on Tribal land. On top of that, is the federal government going to want to open this can of worms? By approving the Seminoles to operate online sportsbooks, it would open the door to all tribes across the country to do so.
Regardless, it’s the first good news in this long and drawn out battle that up until recently looked destined to yet again end in failure.