An agreement has been reached in the state of Florida between the Seminole Tribe and Governor Ron DeSantis. If approved by the legislature next week, the state could be the next in the US to offer sports betting. It is estimated that the industry could bring as much as $500 million or more in annual revenues to Florida.
Details of the Agreement
In a statement earlier this week, Marcellus Osceola Jr., the chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, stated that the agreement is ‘historic’ and cements the tribe’s partnership with the state for decades. The tribe looks forward to the agreement approval by the state legislature, the Seminole Tribal Council, and the United States Department of the Interior.
There is only one week remaining during the legislative sessions, so lawmakers will have to work fast to see the agreement move forward. It appears as though getting lawmakers to ratify the agreement in that time frame may prove difficult. It is believed that a special session will need to be called to pass the deal.
Last month, Senate President Wilton Simpson and the governor spoke with parimutuel owners, stating that an agreement was close with the tribe that would allow them to obtain sports betting licenses from the tribe. An offer was provided this month, but the Tribe did not approve.
Talks between the state and the Tribe continued and now, the legal framework for the proposal is being hammered out. It is believed that an announcement will be made at the week’s end with more details on the matter.
What’s to Come?
With the potential agreement, there are legal issues at play. It has been discussed as to whether or not the deal would be in violation of an amendment to the constitution that voters approved back in 2018. In this amendment, any new games added in the state must be approved by the voters unless they are allowed in a compact.
Proponents feel that with the Tribe as the main hub for the industry, it would not be in violation of the requirements set forth by the constitution. It seems though this might be a gray area that could lead some lawmakers to be leery on passing the agreement.
If the plan is approved, it would provide funds to the pari-mutuel industry, which are much-needed. The facilities could offer mobile sports betting at existing sites and in exchange, provide a percentage of proceeds.
For the Seminole Tribe, they would be given exclusive rights to provide roulette and craps at their Florida casinos. They would also operate a hub for sports betting, helping stadiums, casinos, slot venues, and parimutuel sites function. The deal also cuts off any competitors from the Tribe’s venues by 100 miles.
As the hub, the Tribe would earn a piece of every sports bet placed. Parimutuels would be allowed to work with major companies like DraftKings and FanDuel if they negotiate deals with the Tribe first.
The plan also requires the Tribe to pay $500 million to $600 million annually for the next 30 years.