Sports betting legalization could be on the horizon for Florida in 2021. On Monday, Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Peterburg filed three bills for legalizing sports wagering in the state.
Proposal for Legalizing Sports Betting in Florida Awaits Legislative Session in March 2021
The Brandes’ bills have been filed for the next legislative session in 2021, which is scheduled for March. The proposals give a variety of different options and it also includes a list of people who will not be allowed to wager like coaches, athletes, referees, and other employees in the sports industry. According to the proposal, the state lottery department is set to monitor wagering, which means that revenue will go for bettering the education system.
In 2019 a deal was negotiated between representatives from the Seminole Tribe of Florida and Trilby Republican Wilton Simpson, who is now Senate president. This could have opened the door to gambling in the state including sports betting but it was not approved. At that time Simpson offered a 31-year deal which would have included the tribe to act as a hub and host sports betting but the proposal filed for the legislative session in 2020 failed.
What Does Brandes Bill Say about Sports Betting in Florida?
With Florida looking to patch up a stinging $3 billion revenue shortfall, Brandes, and fellow lawmakers for that matter, are keen to find alternative revenue sources. Three bills appeared on Monday, with SB 392, 394 and 396 all working towards the same goal of legalizing sports betting in the state.
As per SB 392, Florida’s Department of the Lottery will assume control over state-wide wagering. SB 394 proposes a 15% tax on all amounts generated from sports pools, which is a slightly ambiguous wording, and SB 396 adds a $100,000 application and renewal fee, one of the lowest across the United States.
With sports betting fully legal in 18 states, Florida is a promising new frontier. Yet political bickering has stalled what could have been progress. In the past, it has been The Seminole tribe and Disney that opposed the commercialization of gambling, advertising Florida as “family-friendly,” and pouring millions in vilifying the arrival of gambling establishments that would lead to societal degradation.
However, efforts to bring sports betting online in the state outside of the Seminole gaming compact have been ongoing. The tribe threatened to stop contributing $700 million to the state should its compacts not be extended and talks about commercializing casinos and gambling stopped.
Presently, Florida allows voters to have the final word in what happens when it comes to gambling. However, in order for Florida to take action, at least 60% of those who have voted during a referendum must support sports betting, something that the Seminoles aren’t going to back up unless it grants them exclusivity over the industry.
The Seminoles are not afraid to discontinue payments, as they see the state’s failure to install “a mechanism to shut down the illegal banked card games” as a failure to enforce the exclusivity of the tribal compact.
All of this is not to say that the Seminoles are a spanner in the wheels of progress. If anything, they are all for it, but given specific terms are agreed upon. It’s just good business.
There Are Seven Other States with Sports Betting Legalization for 2021
There are seven states that could have sports wagering legalized as early as 2021. Some of them have already set eyes on online gambling and others have no history of gambling at all. Retail sportsbooks are already legal in New York but the state awaits approval of an online betting bill. Connecticut has two casinos and legalization in 2021 looks most promising as there is a mutual understanding between officials and sports betting brands.
Although there are some sports betting issues to be resolved and opposition in the state, Massachusetts is also looking forward to legalizing sports betting in the upcoming year. With neighboring states that have legalized sports betting, Ohio needs to overcome a few issues regarding sports betting licenses and regulation but is hopeful for the upcoming 2021.
Missouri has several proposals introduced. Las Vegas Sands has already hired lobbyists for the Texas legislative session, knowing that although Texas is the most reserved state towards gambling it also has unlimited potential.
Sports betting might not be possible next year in Texas, but gambling could open the door for that option in the future. Arizona could be looking at legal sports betting as there was a serious attempt for legalization in 2020 and there is search for support from the Senate and the House of Representatives.