But the special legislative session on gambling that starts Monday still is likely to produce a big expansion of gambling in Florida through a $500 million agreement with the Seminole Tribe of Florida that would bring mobile sports betting to Florida and allow for Las Vegas-style casinos at all tribal facilities. And it opens the door to even more. That’s some seriously bad news.
But don’t exhale just yet. The Seminole agreement, in addition to launching a statewide expansion of gambling and making Florida the largest state in the nation to legalize sports betting, keeps the door open to move those gambling licenses in the not-too-distant future.
There are other problems, too. The deal would all but certainly end up in court on grounds that it violates a 2018 amendment to the Florida Constitution giving voters control over gambling expansion. And it sets up the possibility for even more online gambling in the state within 36 months from now.
Now on to the sports-betting part of this equation. The deal — which has been signed by Gov. DeSantis, but needs approvals from the Legislature and federal government — would mean anyone over 21 in Florida with an app on a mobile device would be able to bet on games, teams and individual performances including motor sports events and Olympic competitions. Existing casinos and parimutuel poker rooms get a piece of the action. They’d be allowed to have their own brand on the mobile sports app and get 60 percent of the revenues, though all bets would still go through the Tribe’s servers.
All of this ignores Amendment 3, the 2018 constitutional amendment that passed with a whopping 71 percent of voters. It says only the voters have the right to expand casino gambling. It only took lawmakers four years to come up with a plan to bypass it.
Read the full Miami Herald Editorial