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Florida Senate approves sports betting deal between Seminole Tribe, DeSantis

The bill still needs to pass through the House and receive federal approval.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — In a 38-1 vote, the Florida Senate approved the 2021 Gaming Compact between the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the state Tuesday.

The new 30-year gaming compact, agreed to by the Tribe and Gov. Ron DeSantis, includes legalizing sports betting in the Sunshine State.

“By comprehensively addressing issues raised for almost a decade, this historic legislation restores Florida’s relationship with the Seminole Tribe, offers new opportunities for Florida’s legacy pari-mutuel industry, and provides substantial new revenues for our state,” Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby) said.

The compact creates a new $2.5 billion revenue-sharing guarantee over the next five years. It also authorizes craps and roulette games at Seminole properties and additional facilities on the Tribe's Hollywood Reservation.

It gives the Tribe exclusive authorization to offer sports betting in Florida and ends disagreements over what games are allowed at state pari-mutuel sites. The compact allows for online sports betting in partnership with pari-mutuels.

"Not only are we beginning a new 30-year agreement with the Seminole Tribe, but we are also making needed updates to Florida law to better reflect the current gaming climate and combat illegal gambling," Senator Travis Hutson (R-St. Augustine) said.

But SB 2-A isn't quite done yet. The Florida House still needs to hold a vote on the matter, and the final say isn't in the hands of the Sunshine State.

It will only take effect if the compact is approved or not voided by the United States Department of the Interior.

The Senate noted it also passed SB 4-A related to gaming enforcement. The bill establishes additional "enforcement measures to address violations of gambling laws and the conduct of unauthorized gaming in the state."

Then there is SB 8-A, which updates Florida law for authorized gaming in the state like live racing, slot machines and the operation of cardrooms. 

"Specifically the bill decouples greyhound, jai alai, harness, and quarter horse racing; eliminates dormant pari-mutuel permits; and prohibits the issuance of new pari-mutuel permits," a press release states.

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