On Friday, April 23, Gov. Ron DeSantis took to Twitter to announce a groundbreaking new gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe that will, among many other things, bring an estimated $6 billion to the Sunshine State over the next 30 years and officially legalize sports betting for Florida gamblers.
The deal is estimated to provide $2.5 billion to the state in the first 5 years alone, with annual payments of at least $500 million.
In exchange for the payments, Florida agreed to cede control of sports betting to the Seminole Tribe. The agreed upon deal will be signed by the Florida legislature in a special session during the week of May 17 and must also receive approval from the federal Secretary of the Interior.
But when the dust settles, how will sports betting, both online and in person, take shape for Florida residents? The official gaming compact provides several key details, but its final form and the gaming options for Florida gamblers is still a long way from being fully determined.
Details on Florida online sports betting
The new 30-year Florida gaming compact will bring in person and online sports betting to Florida, allow the Seminole Tribe casinos to offer roulette and craps, and allow the expansion of tribal casinos at several locations. Florida sports betting will be effectively run by the Seminole Tribe and the state will get a share of the sports betting revenues.
Florida online sports betting and retail sports betting are both included in the compact and are limited to Florida residents 21 years of age or older. Importantly, servers will be housed on tribal property and any bet placed in the state will be deemed to take place where the servers are located, which may lead to legal battles down the road.
Under the details of the compact, state gamblers will be able to place wagers on professional sports, collegiate sports, Olympic or international sports competition, motor vehicle race, or individual performance statistics of an athlete or any individual participant. In-play wagers will be accepted, but prop bets on collegiate sports will not be included.
Sports Betting means wagering on any past or future professional sports or athletic event, competition or contest, any Olympic or international sports competition event, any collegiate sports or athletic event (but not including proposition bets on such collegiate sport or event), or any motor vehicle race, or any portion of any of the foregoing, including but not limited to the individual performance statistics or an athlete or other individual participant in any event or combination of events, or any other “in play” wagering with respect to any such sporting event, competition or contest…
All sports wagering will be completed exclusively through Seminole Tribe controlled sportsbooks, or qualified parimutuel permitholders to offer sports betting at their facilities. The gaming compact requires the Seminole Tribe to compensate the partnered parimutuels with an amount no less than 60% of the difference between the net win earned by the tribe on patrons who access their wagering platform through the parimutuels and Tribe expenses related.
Online sports betting with Seminole Tribe mobile platforms will see a 13.75% state-imposed tax on net wins. To encourage the tribe to partner with parimutuels to offer sports betting, the state will increase the 13.75% tax rate to 15.75% if at least three parimutuels partnerships are not made within three months of the signing of the compact.
The tax rate on net wins for the Tribe from parimutuel based wagers will be set at 10%.
Retails sportsbook would also be allowed under the gaming compact, which opens the possibility of retail sportsbooks at professional sports arenas and stadium.
William Hill currently operates the only sportsbook in professional sports arena in the country, with its retail sportsbook at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.
In Arizona, the Phoenix Suns have also entered into an agreement for the construction of a retail sportsbook in their arena with Fanduel and TPC Scottsdale has entered into an agreement for a retail sportsbook with DraftKings.
In addition to sports betting, the gaming compact will allow the Seminole Tribe to add up to three new casinos on existing tribal property. Additionally, the Seminole Tribe will not stand in the way of legislation to allow Jeffrey Soffer to transfer his casino license to the Fontainebleau Hotel on Miami Beach.
Legal battles on the horizon for Florida sports betting?
The gaming compact will be sent to Washington, D.C., for review by the Office of Indian Gaming. Questions remain for several details in the compact in accordance with Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), namely the potential legality of online sports betting with servers housed on tribal land.
IGRA requires all sports betting to take place on Tribal land, but a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the location of the online bet is where the bettor places the wager, not where the servers that receive the bet are located.
Additionally, the state will likely have to deal with opponents citing the legality of the deal in the eyes of a voter approved 2018 constitutional amendment (Amendment 3) that requires any new casino gambling laws to be approved by voters. Supporters argue that “sports betting” is not mentioned in the constitutional amendment and was not a common game offered in the 2018 amendment, so it should not be included moving forward.
“The way amendment 3 is worded is it has to be a Class III game, and one that typically found in a casino. We can make a pretty good argument that online sports betting is not found in a casino, it’s typically found online,” Senator Jeff Brandes (R-26), a proponent of sports betting in the state, told Saturday Down South in a previous interview.