Florida Legislature Approves Deal Giving Tribe Sports Gaming

Florida’s legislature signed off on an agreement that gives the Seminole Tribe significantly more sway over gambling in the Sunshine State, including control over sports betting.

In a special session Wednesday, the Florida House gave 97-17 approval to a compact that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis struck with the tribe last month -- a deal he said would bring in $2.5 billion in state revenue over the next five years.

The Florida Senate ratified the compact on Tuesday. The deal now faces a review by the U.S. Interior Department.

The Seminole Tribe has operated gaming facilities in Florida for years, including the the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino near Fort Lauderdale and another in Tampa. But the new deal allows it to offer new gambling options including craps, roulette, online sports betting and fantasy sports -- once pending regulation for the latter is in place.

The deal is a major step for sports betting broadly, which has swept state legislatures since a 2018 Supreme Court ruling paved the way for legalization.

The Florida compact leaves the door open for companies including DraftKings Inc. and Flutter Entertainment Plc’s FanDuel to strike up collaborations with the tribe to profit off of the opening. But the legislature delayed plans to vote on a bill explicitly regulating fantasy sports in the state, leaving some of the specifics of how the industry will work to the next session.

In the run-up to the vote, the state and the tribe watered down the original compact somewhat to block online casino gambling.

Opponents of the compact said it was at odds with a 2018 constitutional amendment, which required explicit voter approval for the expansion of gaming. But the compact’s backers said the amendment didn’t apply to tribal lands.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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