Sports betting is now legal in the state of Florida, but the law could be challenged before sportsbooks are actually able to launch. The Seminole Tribe and Governor Ron DeSantis have agreed to a new gaming compact, and it was approved by the state legislature.
Initially, the compact approved sports betting, Daily Fantasy Sports, and online casino gaming, but only sports betting remained on the final bill. The Senate Appropriations Committee quickly removed online casino gaming, and DFS operators fought back against that part of the bill.
Sports betting will be controlled by the Seminole Tribe, just as the entire gaming industry is in Florida. According to this new compact, the Seminoles will share nearly 14% of the total revenue with the state, but only if specific conditions are met. This compact requires the Seminole Tribe to partner with at least pari-mutuel operators in Florida within three months of launch, or the revenue share is much higher.
These new skins could launch independently, but the betting would still be done on the Seminole servers. Betting on both professional and collegiate sporting events will be allowed, but these laws could change before the industry ever launches.
A Florida Gaming Control Commission will also be created after the passing of SB 8-A that came out of the special session. This commission will be made up of five members that are all appointed by Governor DeSantis. DeSantis has been working with the Seminole Tribe for months, and both sides were happy with the new compact.
What Comes Next?
The first legal step that will need to be taken is for the Department of Interior to review and approve the compact. There is a 45-day window for this process to be completed, which would put things on track for approval in July.
There is hope that sports betting can launch as early as October 15, which would allow sportsbooks to take bets during the 2021 NFL season. This would still be a quick turnaround as it could take some time for sportsbook operators to gain licensure approval.
Even if the Department of Interior signs off on this new compact, there could still be some major issues ahead. This compact is expected to face some legal action as there are several groups that believe it violates the terms of Amendment 3.
Amendment 3 was approved by voters in Florida in November 2018, and it allowed for expanded gaming in the state. Opponents of sports betting and this new compact don’t feel that sports betting falls under that umbrella.
Representative Michael Greico is not convinced that sports betting will ever be launched later this year. He stated, “We’re going to be in court, we’re going to lose, and we’re going to see this on the ballot.”
If a lawsuit is filed, sports betting could come down to a decision from a judge, and a decision is not expected to be made quickly. Even if the new compact does hold up in court, the judicial process will force the launch of sports betting to be delayed.