A “draft outline” of a new gambling deal between Florida and the Seminole Tribe has reached Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk, it became known
The state’s regular legislative session is set to end in less than two weeks, but Florida’s top official said that he is sceptical about some of the provisions in the gambling compact’s draft. Gov. DeSantis, who succeeded Rick Scott earlier this year, told local media that while he wants to “get a deal”, he has to make sure that what they are doing is right for Florida.
The state and tribal officials have failed to sign a new gambling compact for several years now. An original agreement was reached between the two parties in 2010. However, key terms of the deal expired in 2015, putting tribal gaming revenue payments to the state in danger.
Florida’s former Governor, Rick Scott, has found a temporary solution to the state gaming issue, reaching an agreement with the Seminole Tribe that effectively extended their exclusivity over blackjack in the state in exchange for hundreds of millions of dollars in shared revenue. However, that deal is set to expire on May 31 and a failed attempt for a new agreement would risk losing more than $350 million in gaming money to the state.
According to reports, the draft outline currently reviewed by Gov. DeSantis’ team includes the authorization of sports betting in the state, with the Seminoles acting as a “hub” for wagering at Florida’s pari-mutuels.
The proposed provisions include the legalization of in-play betting at the state’s professional sports venues. However, Gov. DeSantis said that particular provision could “really affect the integrity of the games.” The top legislator further elaborated that if he can “place a wager on whether the first pitch of a game is going to be a strike or not […] that’s a big moral hazard.”
Gov. DeSantis also pointed out that he should consider whether in-play betting should only be limited to sports arenas, or online sports betting should also be legalized in the state. He noted that he has not “put forth opposition” to the sports gambling effort and that he is willing to discuss how and whether wagering should be introduced on the territory of Florida.
The provision of card games in the state is expected to be a key issue in the new gambling deal between the Seminoles and Florida, if such a deal is reached at all. The tribe previously threatened to stop payments to the state, arguing that Florida has failed to abide by the terms of the original compact by allowing pari-mutuels to conduct the so-called designated player games.
Tribal officials claimed that the games violated the tribe’s exclusivity over blackjack. Gov. Scott managed to appease the Seminoles temporarily, but they have apparently raised the issue once again during recent negotiations with state lawmakers.
Under the provisions in the draft of the potential new deal, the way card games at pari-mutuels are played will change drastically. The games will thus become unprofitable for the state’s pari-mutuels. On the other hand, the facilities will be able to run sports betting operations. However, they will have to share their wagering revenues with the Seminoles.
A Heavy “Legislative Lift”
State lawmakers have less than two weeks to strike a new gambling deal with the Seminole Tribe. However, Gov. DeSantis said that suggesting the passage of the proposed provisions before the end of the legislative session would be a too heavy “legislative lift.”
The lawmakers went on to explain that there are too many stakeholders that “are going to have something to say” about the new gambling compact.
Reportedly, the deal presented to the Governor would result in $400 million in annual payments made by the Seminoles. The amount could gradually rise to $500 million. This is certainly a boost from the current annual revenue share of $350 million, but some lawmakers are believed to have expected a better deal.