Online gambling has been a hotly debated topic amongst Florida’s lawmakers. While many are proponents of legalization, there is a complex challenge at the heart of the issue. Starting in 2010, the Seminole Tribe was handed exclusive gambling rights in the state. The deal signed in 2010 stipulated that these rights would be transferred as an exchange for the tribe paying the state approximately $350 million every year.
Yes its happening
The Seminole Tribe stopped making payments as agreed to in the deal in 2019. The reason for the abrupt cessation of the payments was the fact that a few Floridian parties decided to offer certain card games themselves and the Seminole Tribe called this out to be a violation of their exclusive rightsas per the 2010 deal.
Games such as Three Card Poker, Fortune Pai Gow, etc. which are said to be ‘designated player’ card games were being offered by parties other than the Seminole Tribe. The justification for this was that these particular games were part of the 2010 deal and the Seminole Tribe’s exclusive rights to them ended in 2015. This resulted in the Seminole Tribe suing to stop these games from being offered. In Nov. 2016, the federal judge Robert Hinkle ruled that the tribe could to offer games such as blackjack and other card games for the next 14 years.
The result of the lawsuit was a stale mate grid lock for online gambling in Florida as a whole, that is, until 2021 when a new gambling deal was signed between the state and the Seminole Tribe. What does the deal entail and what does it mean for online gambling in the state of Florida?
NoDepositFan’s expert for the US market, Heidi Allanshares his views on the Florida gambling deal:
The main driving force being the new gambling deal in Florida is Gov. Ron Desantis who seems to have struck a chord with the Seminole Tribe and arrived at some middle ground. The governor, his workforce and the Seminole Tribe have come together to draft a sweeping new gambling deal which, if and when passed, would allow online gambling in Florida. It would open the door for online poker, blackjack and slot games.
The bill is being considered by state lawmakers. The house has also made a statement through House Speaker Chris Sprowls to the effect that the bill will need to be amended to remove any references to online casino games. The push for the amendment comes due to growing concerns among house members that the bill could snowball into Floridians using their cell phones as real money slot machines without any restrictions.
In the latest transpirations, the governor and the Seminole Tribe seem to have agreed to drop the references which are found under the miscellaneous section of the bill. Under the miscellaneous section it was stated that the state would negotiate with the Seminole Tribe in good faith in the following three years so that the Seminole Tribe may offer online versions of all of their casino games, including but not limited to online poker, online blackjack and online slot games.
The new deal is set to change the entire gambling landscape in the state. It will regulate gambling effectively and rope in plenty of revenue for the tribe as well. Apart from the miscellaneous section, other provisions of the deal are agreeable to Florida house members and will be retained as is. The deal will also allow the Seminoles to take over sports betting in gambling. Furthermore, the deal will facilitate the building of three new casinos within the state on the tribe’s Hollywood reservation.
As required by the legislators in order for the ratification of the deal, the Seminole Tribe leaders concurred to delay the launch of the online sports betting platform to mid-October so that all the necessary precautions to ensure safe and responsible gambling can be effectively developed and put into place.
What’s in it for Florida?
So, what does the state of Florida get from all of this? Well, the Seminole Tribe will have to pay $500 million every year to the state in exchange for these allowances, which is $150 million more than the previous $350 million a year fee.
In terms of online gambling, the deal does not yet secure exclusive rights to the Seminole Tribe, especially since references to online gambling have now been dropped. Instead, it only entails conversations regarding the subject would be had. The amended deal does not make any promises to the Seminole Tribe that they will be given rights to online casino games at this time.
For sports betting enthusiasts in Florida, the deal is great news and basically means that sports betting will be legal in the state and they can also expect to have access to online sports betting options later this year.
This historic gaming compact is estimated to raise at least $2.5 billion in new revenue by 2026 and a whopping $6 billion (minimum) by the year 2030. The governor recently stated that the new deal would boost the economy, increase tourism dollars, and make for good recreation and serve the interests of both Floridians and the Seminole Tribe. The governor looks forward to the approval of the deal by the Florida Legislature.