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Florida Legal Gambling News

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Sports betting in Florida is taking a turn for the better, as the state reached a deal with the Seminole Tribe to legalize sports betting statewide. The deal has actually been in the works since April of this year, but now a bipartisan vote from the local lawmakers and federal approval finally gives the full green light.

The Seminole Tribe is looking to have operations set for October or November, and will also have exclusive rights for craps, roulette and sports betting at their buildings.

This arrangement has the Seminole Tribe paying the State of Florida a minimum of $2.5 billion over a 5 year period, coming out to about $500 million a year. After this initial term, the tribe will give Florida a set percentage of some of its gaming revenue. The deal gives the Seminole exclusive rights to these operations for 30 years.

There are several critics of the deal who think that Florida should get more money. They cite the state’s annual budget and similar sports betting deals in other states as examples of why the Seminole are making out too well.

Faith Based Events

Sports betting is a big complication from a legal standpoint, and why critics have been so vocal. Some claim that giving the Seminole sports betting rights goes against the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, a law that requires all gaming to take place on the tribe’s lands. Online gaming and sports betting have become the sticking point here. Even though the tribes do have servers on their lands, critics argue that it doesn’t count.

Two lawsuits are already filed against the compact, although the Seminole argue that federal approval should be enough. Some attorneys cite Colorado and New Jersey as examples where online betting under tribal supervision already happens. The key, they say, is that bets can be placed anywhere but that processing of the transaction must happen on Native American land.

Counter-arguments bring up a ballot measure from 2018. The measure requires that voters approve any expansion of gambling, and lawmakers can’t do it directly. Joining these voices of dissent are big gambling companies like FanDuel sportsbook. They’re putting together a multi-million dollar effort to enact a referendum on the ballot for the next election. Their hope is to take exclusive rights away from the Seminole so they too can operate sports betting in Florida.

The measure, if it gets enough signatures, will appear on the November 2022 ballot. However, it faces a hard fight as it needs a high number of votes and will surely face opposition from anti-gambling groups who would prefer to see no betting at all.

As for now, Florida players can start betting online using the Hard Rock Digital app, which the Seminole tribe runs. In-person facilities must wait until October 15 to offer sports betting operations.