Business experts, lobbyists and sportsbooks remain skeptical of the chances of a sports betting bill being introduced in Florida in 2020.
Gambling Regulation Unlikely in Florida 2020
Florida lawmakers are still at cross roads as to the future of sportsbooks in the state with little legal progress being made to set-up the legal betting industry of the Sunshine State. The main hiccup as of this moment is the participation of the Seminole Indians who are generally against any major expansion in the state, and more specifically, wouldn’t endorse any legal framework that doesn’t include their explicit involvement.
Florida’s legal session will end on March 13 with no attempts having been made to bring the state’s sports betting laws up to the necessary speed with the rest of the country. Furthermore, most lawmakers in office are serving their last year, which means they are out of political clout to make bold decisions, and wouldn’t want to risk controversy.
The Tampa Bay Times offered an insight in the overall mood. The newspaper interviewed a number of specialists, legislators and big names in the iGaming and sports betting business, asking them if Florida is likely to see a sports betting bill in 2020.
An estimated 63% of all respondents said the likelihood of such a move is very limited. According to Brian Edwards from BrianEdwardsSports.com who spoke to Casino.org, the prospects of Florida legalizing sports betting ahead of the new NFL season were dim at best.
A Referendum Facing Obstacles
Apart from Florida running out of bold politicians to spearhead an ambitious legislation, there are numerous reasons why even lawmakers’ support wouldn’t be enough. The Seminole Indians presently hold the majority of all gaming and betting operations in the state.
They have been very protective of their business and have even butted heads with the states when they had reasons to believe they had been wronged. The Seminole Tribe see no reason to alter from the present situation which allows the tribes a nearly exclusive control over all gaming products.
Admittedly, the Seminole Indians have been remitting very generous payments back to the state’s coffers amounting to over $340 million. Besides, to go ahead and legalize sports betting on the same level and with the same overall freedom as in places such as New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Nevada, Florida’s residents will have to go to a state-wide referendum and win with at least 50%.
Organizing a referendum also requires a supermajority on all levels of governance, which could introduce even more difficulties. Not least of all, the Seminole Tribe will also insist on being involved with any legislative attempts, which would delay any referendum indefinitely.
In the event the Seminole Tribe and lawmakers couldn’t reach an agreement, the tribe will simply launch a media campaign hoping to explain Florida voters why the status quo is better than anything lawmakers are cooking up.
Meanwhile, the United States continues to push forward and legalize its sports betting and gaming industry en masse. The American Gaming Association (AGA) reported massive winnings in 2019 generated all courtesy of sports betting, with the total amount staked reached $13 billion.