Florida Senate President to Introduce Comprehensive Gambling, Sports Betting Bill
Florida Senate President Bill Galvano reiterated this past Friday his plan to introduce a sports betting bill during this year’s legislative session
However, the Senate’s top official pointed out during an interview with Florida Politics reporters that his legislation would not be limited to sports wagering, but would also concern other aspects of the state’s gambling industry.
Florida’s 2019 legislative session is set to commence on March 5. Sen. Galvano said last month that he has directed a Senate committee to review the sports betting issue and craft a related legislation by the end of February.
The lawmaker added on Friday that the bill would include other gambling-related matters, the nature of which can still be addressed by the Legislature. Florida voters passed last November the so-called Voter Control of Gambling constitutional amendment that gave residents of the state the authority to decide on the future of the state’s gambling industry. In other words, any gambling expansion proposals that appear in the Legislature will require voters’ approval in order to take effect.
Sen. Galvano said last week that aside from sports betting, his bill would also include “more of a comprehensive impact on the pari-mutuels, from tax rates to hours of operation.” The state’s pari-mutuels also feature card games and slot machines in certain parts of Florida.
Seminole Tribe Compact
State lawmakers will also seek to “stabilize and present new terms or modified terms” to Florida’s existing compact with the Seminole Tribe during the upcoming legislative session. Under said compact, the state receives a portion of the gaming revenue generated by the tribe’s casinos in exchange for exclusivity over the operation of blackjack.
The current deal expires in May. Previous negotiations between Florida lawmakers and tribal officials were not particularly smooth, but the Seminoles have kept paying the state its share of the blackjack revenue generated at their gambling venues.
Sen. Galvano said on Friday that the two parties will have to reach an agreement this spring so that the state can secure an additional $3 billion in revenues over a seven-year period. The lawmaker, previously a House member, played an instrumental role in negotiations over the original compact with the Seminole Tribe that was signed in 2010.
Sen. Galvano further elaborated that the Seminoles would probably want sports betting and that they would still want to add more table games, such as roulette and craps. The lawmaker also pointed out that the tribe wants stability and it can “point to an agreement that is not in flux.”
It is yet to be seen what Sen. Galvano’s gambling bill would include and how it would address sports betting and the Seminole issue. However, any gambling expansion proposal could face litigation, as it would be considered a violation of last year’s amendment.
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