The president of the Florida Senate, Bill Galvano, is moving forward with his plans to try and seek legislative approval for sports gambling in the Sunshine State. He confirmed this past Friday that he will introduce a bill that would authorize the activity, as well as cover other aspects of gambling in Florida. Disney and the Seminole Indian tribe may have met their match.
The new legislative session in Florida gets underway on March 5. Galvano had announced in January that he already directed a Senate committee to look into sports gambling and draft legislation for the industry by the end of this month. In reasserting his position last Friday, he added that the bill would cover other gambling-related topics, including “more of a comprehensive impact on the pari-mutuels, from tax rates to hours of operations.” Other topics, he explained, would be available for discussion by Florida’s legislative body.
Lawmakers in the state, in the upcoming session, will try to “stabilize and present new terms or modified terms” to an existing company Florida has with the Seminole tribe. Under that compact, Florida receives a piece of the revenue generated by the tribe’s casinos and the tribe gets exclusive control over blackjack in the state. The current compact expires in May.
Galvano asserted on Friday that both sides – the government and the tribe – will need to come to an understanding this spring in order to sign a new compact. This will allow the state to secure revenues of what should amount to about $3 billion over a seven-year period. The senator was one of the principles involved when the state signed its previous contract with the Seminole tribe in 2010.
Given that Florida voters agreed to put control of the gambling industry in their hands last November, the Seminole Indians will most likely look for ways to ensure that they can take a bigger cut going forward. Galvano stated that he expects the tribe to argue for control of the sports gambling industry, as well as for the ability to add more table games, including craps and roulette.
Any attempts at introducing legislation can only go so far. When voters in Florida took to the polls last November, they signed off on the Voter Control of Gambling amendment, which puts the power over the industry squarely in the hands of the electorate. Any legislative measure introduced cannot become law until voted on by the state’s residents.