- Florida Deal Will Allow Online Sportsbooks
- Seminole Tribe Receives 30 Year Exclusive License
- Legality of Expansion Still in Question
Over the weekend, details of the Florida – Seminole Tribe gambling agreement confirmed it will include online sportsbooks. When news of the possible deal leaked, it initially appeared limited to retail sportsbooks. But Governor Ron DeSantis ensured that a new compact with the Seminole Tribe will impact all Floridians.
Because all six Seminole Tribe casinos are in South Florida, retail sportsbooks have limited reach. Florida online sportsbooks will allow residents in Jacksonville or Pensacola to place regulated bets. It will also permit Florida’s hordes of tourists to contribute to state betting coffers while at Orlando’s theme parks.
Seminole Tribe Will Exclusively License Florida Online Sportsbooks
In 2019, the Seminole Tribe stopped paying approximately $350 million per year in gambling revenue to Florida. The Seminole Tribe argued – and won in court – that Florida was not doing enough to protect its exclusive gambling license. Card rooms were popping up at racetracks and jai alai frontons, allowed by Gov. DeSantis’ administration.
The new compact addresses the friction between the Tribe, the state government, and the parimutuel operators. The parimutuels will be allowed to offer card rooms at their tracks and frontons. But sportsbooks will only be licensed to Seminole casinos.
The Seminole Tribe could then partner with the parimutuels to add retail sportsbooks across the state. One report suggested parimutuels will pay as much as 55% of their sports betting revenue to the Tribe.
Florida online sportsbooks would only be run by the Seminole Tribe. It is unclear how many operator skins the deal grants the Tribe.
What Other Gambling Updates Are Coming to Florida?
The new compact between Florida and the Seminole Tribe does not only concern sportsbooks. In addition to new Florida online sportsbooks, some of the deal’s details include:
- The compact will grant the Seminole Tribe a 30-year exclusive sportsbook license.
- The Tribe will pay the state at least $2.5 billion over the first five years of the deal.
- The tax rate on Tribal sportsbook revenues is 13.75%
- The Seminole Tribe will pay an additional 10% tax on sportsbook revenues from their partnered parimutuel locations.
- Seminole Tribe casinos can offer craps and roulette for the first time.
- Retail sportsbooks can be built at casinos and parimutuel betting sites.
- The Seminole Tribe can expand or build up to three new casinos.
- Allows gambling licenses to be transferred from one location to another.
- Sportsbooks can take professional and college sports bets, as well as motorsports and Olympic contests.
- Prop bets on college sports would be banned.
- Professional sports franchise will not share in sportsbooks revenue or locations.
Though it is unclear, it appears bettors will be able to place regulated bets on Florida college sports. In a state where college football is king, this will drive a lot of players to the new sportsbooks.
Is the New Florida Online Sportsbook Deal Constitutional?
One potential roadblock for Florida online sportsbooks is whether the gambling expansion deal is legal. In 2018, Florida voters passed a constitutional amendment requiring residents weigh in on any additional authorization of casino gambling. Voters would need to approve any additional gambling by a vote of 60% or more.
While whether sportsbooks are casino gambling is debated across the country, craps and roulette are clearly traditional games. Gambling opponents will likely sue to prevent any expansion that is not put before Florida voters.
Now that the Governor and the Seminole Tribe signed the agreement, the new compact moves to the state legislature. A special legislative session will convene on May 17. Legislative approval is not a given because of how many different lobbying interests will impact the debate. Past attempts to regulate Florida sportsbooks went nowhere.
However, if the state legislature passes an implementation bill, the federal government still needs to approve the new compact. Because the Seminoles are a federally recognized Native American Tribe, the Department of the Interior has jurisdiction. Once that hurdle has been cleared, opponents may still launch lawsuits to argue against the new deal’s legality.
Gov. DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe’s agreement is a major breakthrough for Florida online sportsbooks. Yet, all parties need to address numerous issues before bettors can place regulated bets on their Gators or Hurricanes.