In the southern American state of Florida and legislators have reportedly removed a section of a proposed agreement with the Seminole Tribe of Florida that would have allowed the tribe to offer mobile and online gaming.
According to a Monday report from the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper, the revelation from the Speaker for the Florida House of Representatives, Chris Sprowls (pictured), comes as state lawmakers are seeking to finally agree a gaming compact with the federally-recognized tribe. The Republican purportedly disclosed that the 75-page agreement now calls for the tribe to be allowed to offer sportsbetting at its seven land-based casinos spread across ‘The Sunshine State’ but without a mobile or online component.
The newspaper reported that the proposed gaming compact would replace a 2010 deal that gave the Seminole Tribe of Florida a statewide monopoly on ‘banked’ casino games such as blackjack. However, the tribe purportedly stopped honoring the revenue-sharing element of this arrangement in 2019 to leave the state missing out on roughly $350 million in annual tax payments.
Sprowls reportedly told the Tallahassee Democrat that the iGaming proposition was removed from the envisioned 30-year gaming compact due to concerns that it could ‘lead to the back-door expansion of online gaming’. The 37-year-old purportedly declared that ‘even the mere possibility of this was unacceptable’ despite an earlier assurance to the contrary from the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
The newspaper reported that more than 20 American states have authorized some form of sportsbetting following the 2018 invalidation of the nationwide prohibition contained within the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). Florida now purportedly hopes that legalized sports wagering will allow it to bring in up to $2.5 billion in added tax revenues before the end of 2026 in exchange for allowing the tribe to operate up to ten land-based sportsbooks.
Sprowls reportedly stated that a ‘miscellaneous’ section of the proposed gaming compact would allow the state and the Seminole Tribe of Florida to continue negotiating for a further three years post-signing on ways to open up other types of gambling including those activities conducted online or via a mobile device. The Palm Harbor legislator purportedly furthermore divulged that this stipulation had been inserted following direct engagement with representatives for the 4,300-strong tribe.
The Tallahassee Democrat reported that another portion of the proposed gaming compact would ‘de-couple’ Florida’s many parimutuel betting enterprises from their current land-based operators and allow such operations to partner directly with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. As such and the tracks and frontons would be permitted to retain 60% of their takings before handing the remainder over to the tribe.
Finally, Sprowls reportedly told the newspaper that legislators could begin voting on the envisioned gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida as soon as later this week before sending it to Washington, DC, for the required consent of the National Indian Gaming Commission. Even if this process goes quickly, he purportedly asserted that the accord contains a delay that will not see sportsbetting launched in Florida before October 15 so as to give officials the chance to establish and test ‘the appropriate safeguards.’