Florida state legislators are talking about having gambling expansion in a big way in the state. The expansion would allow the Seminole Tribe exclusive rights when it comes to sports wagering in the Sunshine State.
The President of the Florida Senate Bill Galvano recently asserted that it is not the time to negotiate a gaming agreement between the two chambers. In a recent press statement, Galvano came out and said that a gaming bill in Florida is not even close to happening.
“What has been reported, thus far, is chatter based on a lot of misinformation,” Galvano said. “Gaming negotiations are extremely complicated and, while I believe the efforts are worthy, it is also important to be realistic about where we are.”
The Background of the Issue
In 2019 Galvano sent the task of negotiating with the Seminole Tribe on a brand new compact to Senator Wilton Simpson. Then Wilson made a deal that was somewhat tentative where the tribe would make an annual payment of $500 million to Florida for legal sports betting.
The sports wagering in the state would have been legal at the racetracks as well as jai alai venues with the tribe then acting as somewhat of a hub. For their part, Florida would close card games that have a “designated player” held at pari-mutuel facilities.
Florida Governor Rick DeSantis was staunch in his refusal to give his approval of the deal and did not sign off on it. The Seminole Tribe’s response to the refusal of the deal was to halt their $350 million annual payment to Florida.
The government of Florida jumped into the fray when there was a 2016 ruling from a U.S. District Court judge ruling that the state had breached an exclusive tribal contract in terms of allowing banked card games, letting facilities that were pari-mutuel use a system of designated players to work around the issue. The Seminole Tribe, now, does not have to pay anything to the state.
Considering that a 2018 ballot initiative was passed and form of gambling expansion outside the areas where tribal casinos are located have to be initiated by the voters of Florida and not the state legislature.
The Simpson agreement was used by the legislature of Florida with the Seminole Tribe with 2019 being the starting point to start talks in this session.
The latest proposal for sports betting in Florida lets the Seminole Tribe be a host for mobile sports betting in the state. This according to the Orlando Sentinel. Then the tribe would have to resume payments to the state as well as significantly increasing the sharing of revenue derived from sports betting.
However, the proposal would allow for pari-mutuels to keep offering the card games for designated players. Given lawsuits in the past, it does not seem likely that the Seminole Tribe would agree to that.
The tribe has not even begun discussing the matter, and on top of that, neither has the Florida Governor, and that shows there is still a lot that needs to be ironed out.
Galvano stated, “To my knowledge, there have been no discussions with the Seminole Tribe since session last year, nor have we included any money in our budget from the Seminole Tribe. He went onto say, “If through discussions, there is at some point an agreement between chambers, then conversations with the Tribe may start.”