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US – Florida allows Seminoles to offer sports betting, roulette and craps in $20bn deal

By - 20 May 2021

In a deal worth up to $20bn over 30 years to the state, the Florida Senate has allowed the Seminole Tribe to offer sports betting and add roulette and craps to its casinos.

The Senate also signed off a bill that will let jai alai frontons, dog tracks and a harness racing track in Miami-Dade and Broward counties to continue to operate slots and card rooms without holding live events.

The Florida Senate has passed Senate Bill 2-A, Implementation of the 2021 Gaming Compact between the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the State of Florida. The legislation ratifies the 2021 Gaming Compact executed by the Seminole Tribe of Florida and Governor DeSantis on behalf of the State of Florida on April 23, 2021, as amended on May 17, 2021.

“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,” said Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby), who has been working to negotiate a new compact with the Seminole Tribe for the last several years. “After years of negotiations and the hard work of many people on both sides, I’m pleased to see this significant legislation pass the Senate today.”

“I’m grateful to my Senate colleagues for their strong support of this historic Compact,” said Senator Travis Hutson (R-St. Augustine), Chair of the Senate Committee on Regulated Industries and sponsor of the Senate’s gaming legislation during 2021 Special Session A. “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.”

The 2021 Compact creates a new revenue-sharing agreement with a $2.5 billion 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.

SB 2-A takes effect only if the Compact is approved, or deemed approved and not voided, by the United States Department of the Interior, and takes effect on the date that notice of the effective date of the compact is published in the Federal Register.

The Senate also passed SB 4-A, Gaming Enforcement, which establishes additional enforcement measures to address violations of gambling laws and the conduct of unauthorized gaming in the state, including the creation of an independent five-member Gaming Control Commission. The bill also grants additional investigatory and prosecutorial authority to the Office of Statewide Prosecution in the Department of Legal Affairs.

SB 8-A, Gaming, updates Florida law for authorised gaming in the state, including live racing and games, slot machine gaming, 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.

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