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Florida Senator Ready to Introduce a New Gambling and Sports Betting Bill

Publish: 22.02.2019
Florida lawmaker will discuss a sports betting proposal during this year’s legislative session. One of the biggest proponents of sports betting, Senate President Bill Galvano, restated the intention to do so in his recent interview.

Galvano also stated this proposal wouldn’t be limited to sports betting, but would also include other activities important to the gambling industry in the Sunshine State.

An Important Issue

The issue of sports betting should quickly reach Florida lawmakers, as this year’s legislative session starts on March 5. Galvano added the whole issue should be under Senate’s scrutiny in the coming period, as the had already directed the corresponding committee to make a draft of related legislation. Commenting on the upcoming legislative session, Galvan said the latest proposal would encompass a wide array of gambling-related matters.

Last November, the voters approved the Voter Control of Gambling constitutional amendment, which gave the state’s residents the right to decide on the future of gambling in Florida. Therefore, any sort of gambling expansion will need to get voters’ green light before coming into effect.

Galvano confirmed last week that his proposal would focus not only on sports betting but also on other gambling-related activities. The senator said the bill would include “more of a comprehensive impact on the pari-mutuels, from tax rates to hours of operation”. At this moment, pari-mutuels in Florida, or at least in certain parts of the state, also offer card games as well as slot machine games.

Negotiating a New Deal with the Seminoles

Another important issue that will be on the agenda during the next legislative session is the introduction of new terms to the state’s current compact with the Seminole Tribe.

Under the provisions of the existing compact, which will expire in May, Florida gets a share of the gaming revenue generated by casinos operated by the tribe, while the Seminoles get to exclusively offer blackjack to players in the state.

Negotiations between the state officials and tribal representatives didn’t go smooth in the past, but that didn’t stop the Seminoles from giving Florida its portion of the blackjack revenue generated at their casinos.

According to a statement made by Galvano, the two sides will need to work together to reach a new deal. This deal will be very lucrative for the state, as it would secure an additional $3 billion in revenues until 2026. Galvano has a vast experience in this kind of negotiating, as he played a key role when the two parties negotiated over the original compact back in 2010.

Galvano pointed out that the Seminoles would want sports betting at their facilities, as well as more table games, which meant the new compact would need to address these issues, while at the same time bringing the much-needed stability.

Following the last year’s decision of the US Supreme Court to overturn PASPA of 1992, and effectively lift the federal ban on sports betting, a number of states have made wagering on sports legal. A lot of money is at stake, and it doesn’t come as a surprise that Florida wants a share of this newly created market. It remains to be seen what else would be included in Galvano’s proposal, but whatever it may bring, voters will have the final say.