Florida Governor and Seminole See Eye-to-Eye on Betting

  • Florida and Seminole Tribes on their way to new compct agreement
  • Sports betting expansion possible
  • Opposition against gambling expansion mounts

Florida is still tip-toeing around the idea of fully legalizing sports betting with talks beginning during last November’s election and Amendment 3. Voters finally have the power to authorize new gambling venues, but this would take significant effort.

Will Florida Get Sports Betting in 2019?

On April 26, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis met with gaming businesses representative to discuss the future of the sports betting and iGaming industries in the state. DeSantis had previously spoken to Seminole Tribe of Florida Chairman Marcus Osceola and Seminole Gaming CEO Jim Allen as well as the tribal gaming operator’s General Counsel, Jim Shore.

The talks mark a success in a bottle-neck that has had the Seminole tribal gaming facilities strangle any previous attempts to expand or include sports betting. Not only that, but the Tribes and the state may be coming closer to creating a new compact much like the one that expired back in 2010 that gives Seminole exclusivity on gambling verticals.

The meeting was described as cordial with the Tampa Bay Times reporting closely on the summit, citing lobbyist Nick Iarossi who said:

The governor spent over an hour intently listening and asking questions to better understand the pari-mutuels and issues related to the proposed compact.

Planning for the Future – 31 Years of Understanding

A new proposal may now be on the cards with a 31-year agreement being discussed. When the previous deal was struck, it took legislators 20 years to come up with a solution for everyone to agree.

The toughest nut to crack has always been the Seminole Tribe casinos that have insisted on exclusive rights. It’s similar today with Florida continuing to operate without a new compact while the tribes grow impatient and continue to contribute to the state’s coffers, estimated at $350 million.

This is money that Florida doesn’t want to lose, even though lawmakers already drafted a budget that excludes these contributions.

While there has bee divisions in the past and much traction, things seem to be finally smoothing out with talks about future expansion of iGaming and sports betting operations in the state.

The Seminole recently contested the issue of allowing certain facilities to operate player-banked games, thus allowing such venues to circumnavigate the tribes’ exclusivity rights over the segment.

Not Everyone Is Happy about Sports Betting

The naysayers have spoken. At the beginning of April, No Casinos in Florida, a non-for-profit group, sent a letter to Florida House Speaker Jose Oliva and to Senate President Bill Galvano, stating their opposition to legalizing sports betting and expanding it across Florida.

Interestingly, companies such as Walt Disney and Seminole have also spent copious amounts to make sure that casinos don’t arrive to the state. Yet an expansion t the present moment appears hypocritical.

Disney is also running sports betting shows through ESPN, a company that it owns. Florida’s gambling and sports betting are indeed contentious issues

Aran Malik

“Magic Malik”—as we like to call him—is not only a tech whiz but a wizard when it comes to getting obscure news hot off the press so we know exactly what’s happening and can explore and report it back to our growing and loyal readerbase.

Robinson Introduces Bill to Shut Online Lottery Ticket Sale in Florida

  • Rep. Will Robinson introduces bill to cancel all online lottery tickets
  • Mr. Robinson cites security concerns
  • Florida is likely to accept the bill

Florida has a no-go policy on casinos and gambling in general. Advertised as a family holiday destination, this is not surprising. Now, State Rep. Will Robinson wants to make sure that lottery tickets can only be sold at retail shops as opposed to online websites.

The Wire Act, Florida and the Lotteries

Florida is indeed a little gung-ho when it comes to its gaming laws, and the current legislative development originating in the Department of Justice (DOJ) isn’t going to make the climate any milder.

While New Jersey and Pennsylvania are contesting the DOJ and the ham-fisted approach to the online gambling industry in the United States, Florida seems a little more accommodating.

DOJ Could Consider Flip-Flopping on Its 2011 Decision

State Rep. Will Robinson wants to make sure that no ticket is ever sold online and his newly introduced House Bill 629 might just hit the mark. Mr. Robinson is a man with a plan, and he intends to uproot the “illegal sort of fraudulent online vendors that sell tickets” – more or less:

These fraudulent websites are, in my view, illegally advertising when they are not related to the lottery system at all.

Mr. Robinson is not wasting any time either. His bill will appear before the Gaming Control Subcommittee on Wednesday.

Why Is Florida Against Online Lottery Ticket Sales?

The argument is not without merit. In 2018, Aura Dominguez Canto from Panama bought a ticket from TheLotter.com, an Israeli-based online ticket website.

TheLotter.com had bought the ticket from a local retailer, and then re-sold it to Ms. Canto who eventually won the $30 million pot.

Despite an initial opposition to pay out the winnings, Ms. Canto’s jackpot was honored. Though this alone cannot be the basis for calling websites illegal, it certainly goes to indicate that online vendors can lead to some confusion.

In light of this, Mr. Robinson has set out to ensure that online tickets would no longer be valid, should his Bill manage to clear the upcoming legal hurdles.

New Hampshire Is Not Quite Happy

Florida has its reasons to not like online gambling, not least of all because the state is cosy with the tribal operators which have contributed billions to the economy.

Meanwhile, New Hampshire is preparing to take things to court, challenging the DOJ’s newly-revised Opinion on the Wire Act.

Back in Florida, Mr. Robinson remains adamant against the sale of lottery tickets online. Since the state doesn’t offer the activity officially, all websites that extend lottery tickets are in fact illegal. As the senator himself noted, Florida is nowhere near switching to online sales.

He also further noted the risk that carrying out transactions over the Internet posed with many such vendors using the lottery’s logo to lure in financial details from customers.

Sophia Rojas

Growing up around law firms, Sophia keeps our team of reporters atop any legislative developments to follow up with a welcomed dose of positive news as our house trivia nut!