Florida just won’t let the topic of sports betting die, and now there appears to be a renewed sense of optimism with lawmakers and government leaders. The state has struggled to support sports betting in the past, especially from the most powerful Native American tribe in the state.
Last week, Governor Ron DeSantis expressed optimism that a sports betting bill is close, and he expected a bill to land on his desk in 2021. This announcement came out of nowhere at the time, as most thought that sports betting had been tabled until 2022.
DeSantis announced that he and other Republican leaders have been working behind the scenes to get a deal passed before April 30. The legislative session ends on that date, and it’s not likely that anything would get done later in the year.
According to the governor, representatives from the Seminole Tribe have been participating in the meetings as well. This might be the most important part of his announcement, as the tribe has not been willing to work with the state in the past.
DeSantis claims that a decision could come by the end of March, which would leave just enough time for lawmakers to take a look at a potential bill. Republicans control both parts of the Florida Legislature, which could allow for a bill to be pushed through quickly.
Florida could become one of the biggest sports betting markets in the U.S. if this became a legal gambling option. There are still many questions that need to be answered, but it does appear that things are moving in the right direction.
Seminole Tribe Still Not Convinced
Even though Governor DeSantis believes that sports betting is gaining momentum in Florida, the final decision does not rest in his hands. The Seminole Tribe has all the power in the gambling industry in the Sunshine State, and they have yet to fully support the new industry.
The Seminole Tribe has been upset with Florida for many years, dating back to Governor Rick Scott. It was Scott that allowed casino gambling at racetracks and other locations to take place, and it hurt the revenue numbers for the Seminole Tribe.
The Seminole Tribe is no longer paying the state any funds from casino gaming, and they seem content with continuing to operate as is. Some leaders of the Seminole Tribe have publicly supported sports betting, but only if everything runs through them.
DeSantis has been able to build up a relationship with the tribe, which could help keep the sports betting conversation going in the Sunshine State. Some of these discussions have been taking place in recent weeks, but the Seminole Tribe is not as optimistic as the governor is.
One thing is for certain; if Florida ever legalizes sports betting, the Seminole Tribe will be the group that is leading the charge. There could be other sports betting locations as well, but the Seminoles will fight to ensure that their needs and desires are met.