The new legislative session of Florida is about to begin and policymakers have already hinted at the presentation of three bills against sports betting. Senator Jeff Brandes has put forth a trio of sports betting bills, which is going to start the debate over the legalization of these bills.
SB 968, SB 970, and SB 972 are the three bills that will be the center for debate in the legislation this session. If the bills become succeed in the Florida Legislature, then next year, it will become laws, which will give the state Lottery the authority to oversee the growing athletic gambling sector.
These bills call for the legalization of mobile and retail betting throughout the state from lottery kiosks. If the bills are legalized, then taxation of 15% on the revenue will be implemented and all the gambling activities will be directed by the Florida State-Lottery and third-party licensees approved by the Lottery. Also, the sports gambling operators will have to pay an annual license charge of $100,000, which needs to be renewed every year. However, there still are many unanswered questions like on which of the sports Florida gamblers are allowed to place a bet on. Professional, college, and amateur sports have been included in the bill.
Tribal sports betting not included in the Bill
The tribes operate the largest gambling arcades in the state and also the Seminole Tribe are very influential in the state; therefore, they have a monopoly in the gambling industry. They also have stopped paying the state from their revenue generated as a new compact could not be decided upon. Till then, Florida’s tribal casinos have not been brought under the purview of these bills. This could have a detrimental effect in the future.
The Seminoles had sought for sports betting exclusiveness this year. However, negotiations between the Seminoles and the state failed, stalling all development in the matter of sports betting legalization. Many experts believe that the gambling business in Florida cannot flourish without the support of the tribes and the absence of the mention of them in the bills means a short life-span of these bills in the Florida Legislature.
Last fall, Florida voters voted for a constitutional amendment that empowered them to give the final decision on all betting-related matters. As per the amendment, the expansion of the state’s wagering industry needs the approval of the voters by conducting a statewide vote. This means the bills can only be legalized if they stand the test of the legislative body and the state voters.