Gambling casinos won’t expand to Central Florida as part of a new $2.5 billion pact between the state and the Seminole Tribe, its leaders insist. But at the same time, gambling could soon be taking place everywhere in Florida, on anyone’s smartphone.
“You could be sitting on your toilet anywhere in the state, and so long as the file server is [on tribal lands], you’re betting ‘on tribal lands,’” said John Sowinski, who heads the anti-gambling organization No Casinos, of the agreement’s sports betting provisions. “It’s ridiculous.”
Sowinski and his group, who have been battling against gaming expansion in the state for years, argue that the state constitution requires voter approval for any expansion of gambling in the state, virtual or not. And they’re doing whatever they can to try to kill the agreement.
The so-called “compact” between the tribe and Gov. Ron DeSantis, if it wins approval from the Legislature during a special session beginning May 17, would pave the way for Hard Rock casinos owned by the Seminoles in Florida to offer craps and roulette, including flagship properties in Tampa and Hollywood.
But it also would allow the tribe to offer sports betting, including the option to award licenses to private racetracks, jai-alai facilities and former dog-racing tracks.
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