After a failed legal sports betting attempt in 2020, Florida State Senator Jeff Brandes has introduced a new bill that could give Florida legal sports betting in 2021. The main motivation for Florida to legalize sports betting is tax revenue. The proposed bill would net the state 15% of all revenue and charge each sportsbook a $100,000 licensing fee.
Challenges Facing Florida Sports Betting
Should sports betting clear, it would give Florida much-needed tax revenue. The economy has taken a major hit due to COVID-19 which has increased the need for alternate revenue streams.
Senator Jeff Brandes is a Republican which is the same political party as Governor DeSantis. Theoretically, the relationship between the two in the same party could see that the bill is passed.
However, the bill is conveniently missing a critical piece of legislation in Florida. The Seminole Tribe of Florida is not mentioned at all in the bill that is attempting to legalize sports betting. In order for this bill to pass, there will need to be some clarification on where the Seminole Tribe fits into legalized sports betting. Currently, they have gambling exclusivity in Florida.
It would appear unlikely that they would give up exclusive rights to gambling in the state. Thus, the state and tribe would need to work together to make this a reality.
Legal Sports Betting Cannot Happen Without The Seminole Tribe of Florida
The active bill from Senator Brandes is currently scheduled to reach committee status in March. Should it move past the committee, there would be legitimate optimism about the sports betting opportunity in Florida.
The caveat to this argument from Senator Brandes is that he attempted to pass a similar bill earlier in 2020. At this time, the bill does not include any language related to the monopoly that the Seminole Tribe has on gambling. Should the bill continue to the committee stage, there will need to be discussions with the Seminole Tribe to work together. They will not be left off from this bill so there is a ton of work to do on that end.
Recent Optimism For Florida Sports Bettors
Thankfully, there is some reason for optimism for sports betting in Florida. Hard Rock International recently launched a digital gaming platform in conjunction with the Seminole Tribe. The willingness to work with Hard Rock is a major step forward for the state. With this, it shows that Hard Rock believes that Florida could legalize sports betting sooner rather than later.
The next steps for 2021 sports betting in Florida will be key. First, sports betting will need to move to the committee stage and get through it rather quickly. If the bill were to pass the committee, the bill would hit state legislative bodies. Governor DeSantis would then have the opportunity to sign the bill into law and rules would be ratified.
The absolute best-case scenario for Florida would be sports betting in Q4 2021, which is still ambitious. The Seminole Tribe still holds the keys to everything gambling-related in the state. The tribe’s views will be important to monitor as the revenue-hungry state continues to move forward.