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Florida Governor signs deal with Seminole Tribe opening door for sports betting

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The BB&T Center in Sunrise could offer live sports betting if it becomes legal in the state of Florida. // Photo by @GeorgeRichards

The state of Florida came one step closer to legalizing sports betting on Friday when Governor Ron DeSantis signed a gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

The complex agreement, which still needs various approvals including from the Florida legislature and U.S. federal government, would not only expand gaming at the Seminole Tribe’s operations around the state, but would allow for mobile and on-site sports betting.

Betting on sports, now legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia, is considered a game-changer in Florida.

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Not only could fans bet on their mobile devices, but they could place wagers on site at casinos, race tracks and at professional sports arenas themselves.

Players could not only bet on the outcome of games but on in-game props (the Panthers will score first, the game will go to overtime, over/under goals scored in a period, etc.) as well.

Bets could also be placed on various other sports from international soccer to golf, tennis and auto racing either online or in person.

The pact approves on-site betting operations at arenas which, in South Florida,could include BB&T Center, AmericanAirlines Arena, Marlins Park and Hard Rock Stadium.

The deal, however, is far from being done.

According to a report in the Miami Herald, the agreement between the state and the Tribe — which would add approximately $500 million per year to the state budget — must be ratified by the Florida legislature and approved by the U.S. Department of Interior.

DeSantis and legislative leaders will hold a special session in May to discuss the issue.

Per the Herald, Seminole Tribe of Florida Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr. called the pact a “historic agreement that cements our partnership with the state for decades to come.”
Not only will the Seminole Tribe be in charge of sports betting, but it would be able to add additional Vegas-style gaming at their properties as well as expand and build new gaming centers on their properties here near Fort Lauderdale but in Tampa and Brighton as well.
The Herald also reports that the measure would allow frontons and race tracks to continue to keep various card games which the Tribe had previously said was in direct competition to their offerings.
That dispute led the Tribe to stop making payments to the state a few years ago.
The move could also mark the end of Jai-alai and harness racing in the state.
While greyhound racing was voted out and ended at all tracks throughout the state starting in 2021, other “racinos” have to have some parimutuel activity to continue keeping card rooms and slot machines (South Florida).
The new pact could “decouple” activities such as Jai-alai and harness racing to keep card games, slot machines and the like.
Without having to support money-losing endeavors with high expense and low handles, it is thought frontons (Miami, Dania) and harness tracks (Pompano) will take advantage of the deal and end them, becoming standalone casino operations.
Thoroughbred racing, which is by and large profitable to the few tracks left in Florida (Gulfstream, Tampa Bay Downs), would remain open.

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