After making some minor adjustments to its language, lawmakers in Florida’s Senate and House of Representatives have approved a new gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. There is likely still to be at least a little blowback over some of the terms of the agreement, but its approval paves the way for Florida to move forward with what is expected to be a multi-billion-dollar-a-year market. In advancing the compact, lawmakers have also opened the door for Donald Trump to once again get involved in casino gambling.
Sports Gambling on Florida’s Doorstep
The Florida Senate approved the gaming compact on Tuesday after making some adjustments. It then forwarded the revised agreement to the House, which signed off on it yesterday, giving it overwhelming support with a 97-17 vote. The Department of the Interior (DOI) still has to give its approval and, if it does, the Seminole Tribe will be able to operate sportsbooks at its casinos. The tribe will also be able to expand its casino operations, introducing roulette and craps at its properties. In return, Florida will receive $20 billion over the 30-year life of the agreement.
As close as the compact is to being approved, there exists the possibility that a legal fight might prevent it from moving forward. In 2018, Florida voters approved Amendment 3 on the November ballot, which took any talk of gambling expansion out of government hands and put it firmly in the hands of voters. A recent survey has already revealed that there could be some resistance to the compact, which would ultimately cause the DOI to hold off on giving its approval. Because the new agreement includes language that would authorize at least one non-tribal casino, possibly more, there is undoubtedly going to be public resistance to the arrangement. One lawmaker, Representative Anna Eskamani, hinted at this when she said, “Whatever happened to Amendment 3? I thought that moving forward, and the voters would approve any type of expansion of gambling.”
The Tenuous Future of Sports Gambling in Florida
Florida lawmakers, in greenlighting the compact, included language that would prevent the Seminole Tribe from interfering should the Trump National Doral be given a casino license. The property is owned by former POTUS Donald Trump and managed by his son, Eric, and is just over 15 miles from the Seminole Tribe’s Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, FL. That language specifically states that the tribe cannot contest a casino that is more than 15 miles “in a straight line” from the Hard Rock, which would cover both the Trump Doral and another property, the Fontainebleau Miami Beach.
Miami-Dade officials have already indicated that they’re not enthusiastic about the idea of having casinos in the county. Even though the Seminole Tribe cannot contest a new casino license, these officials can, as can others across the state who believe the government is overstepping its authority and breaking the constitutionality of Amendment 3. While Florida stands on the cusp of a massive revenue-generating market, it’s likely that it will have to stand there for a lot longer than it would have hoped.