The Seminole tribe in Florida has been putting together a new gambling package with state lawmakers and that package has now been presented to Governor Ron DeSantis. It will now most likely sit on a desk until the next legislative session, as Florida lawmakers are going on recess in two weeks and DeSantis has already said that he has strong reservations about some of the provisions contained in the new gambling agreement.
The Sunshine State and the Seminoles have been battling for the past several years to create a new compact that would be amenable to both side. A compact created in 2010 expired in 2015 and, since then, no progress has been made on a new version. This has the potential to cause Florida to lose valuable revenue payments, while the tribe continues to rake in the cash with their almost exclusive control over gambling in the state.
Rick Scott, who preceded DeSantis as governor, had reached an interim agreement with the tribe when he controlled the state. That agreement gave the Seminoles an extension of their control over blackjack in exchange for millions of dollars in revenue payments. The Seminoles have argued that the agreement has already been compromised by certain card clubs in the state and, with that agreement expiring at the end of May, Florida could lose over $350 million in gambling revenue if a new solution isn’t found quickly.
Under the new draft compact, the Seminoles would be allowed to offer sports gambling. However, DeSantis isn’t convinced that one aspect of the activity, in-play betting at professional sports venues, could jeopardize the integrity of the games and added that being able to “place a wager on whether the first pitch of a game is going to be a strike or not … [is] a big moral hazard.”
The tribe has argued that Florida broke the most recent compact when pari-mutuel venues were allowed to offer certain card games, in violation of the agreement with Scott. Because of this, it has threatened to stop future payments and is holding out for language in the new compact that will provide better protection of its revenues. Given the amount of money that’s at risk to the state, there’s a good chance that the Seminoles will get their way on virtually all points.