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US – Federal Government approves Florida’s sports betting deal with Seminoles

By - 10 August 2021

The Federal Government has now approved Florida’s new Gaming Compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida, paving the way for the state’s biggest betting expansion in years.

The deal, which is worth up to $20bn over 30 years to the state, will allow the Seminole Tribe to offer sports betting and add roulette and craps to its casinos. The 2021 Compact creates a new revenue-sharing agreement with a $2.5bn guarantee in the first five years. The Compact authorizes craps and roulette games at Seminole properties, additional facilities on the Tribe’s Hollywood Reservation, and statewide online sports betting in partnership with existing pari-mutuels

Governor Ron DeSantis said: “The final approval of this historic gaming compact is a big deal for the State of Florida. This mutually-beneficial agreement will grow our economy, expand tourism and recreation and provide billions in new revenue to benefit Floridians. I again want to thank Seminole Tribe of Florida Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr., Senate President Wilton Simpson and House Speaker Chris Sprowls for their part in getting this done for our great state.”

Bryan Newland, Principal Deputy assistant secretary of the US Department of Interior for Indian Affairs, added: ““After thorough review under IGRA, we have taken no action to approve or disapprove the Compact before August 5, 2021, the 45th day. As a result, the Compact is considered to have been approved by operation of law to the extent that it complies with IGRA and existing Federal law. The Compact will become effective upon the publication of noticed in the Federal Register.”

Some pari-mutuel establishments will now be able to close down their racing or jai alai operations and concentrate entirely on casino operations.

Seminole Tribe of Florida Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr. said: “Today is a great day for the people of Florida, who will benefit not only from a $2.5bn revenue sharing guarantee over five years, but also from statewide sports betting and new casino games that will roll out this fall and mean more jobs for Floridians and more money invested in this state.”

Senate President Wilton Simpson added: “I thank Governor DeSantis, House Speaker Chris Sprowls and the Seminole Tribe for their hard work and leadership to provide new opportunities for Florida’s legacy pari-mutuel industry, ensure oversight and accountability in gaming and secure billions of dollars in new revenue to invest in Florida’s future.”

The deal wasn’t welcomed by everyone . A group called No Casinos had begged the Bureau of Indian Affairs to kick out the Compact.

No Casinos President John Sowinski said: “We are deeply disappointed that the Department of Interior took no action on the compact between the State of Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida. While this inaction means that it is deemed approved by the Department of Interior, it does not change the fact that this compact violates multiple Federal laws as well as the Florida Constitution. The 2018 constitutional mandate of 72 per cent of Florida voters could not be clearer. Only Florida voters, not politicians in Tallahassee or Washington, have the power to expand gambling in Florida. This issue will have its day in both State and Federal Courts, where we are confident that this compact will be overturned.”

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