Evaluation: Does Florida Have a Likelihood to Legalize Sports activities Betting This Yr?
A new year has brought a small (really infinitely small) glimmer of hope with it Florida will be able to complete sports betting during this year’s legislature.
Probably not, but still.
As the Legal Sports Report reported in late December, Jeff Brandes, a state senator from the Pinellas Area, has plans to introduce a trio of bills that would legalize FL sports betting with a royalty of $ 100,000 and a 15% Tax rate, practically the same legislation that he introduced last year.
When will we know if this is going anywhere?
The state of Florida has a 60-day legislative session that opened on January 11, 2021 and runs until March. If things are not done in this 60-day window, there is the option of extending the session with three-fifths of the votes from each side of the state parliament or the possibility of a special session.
The Florida Constitution allows either the Governor or the President of the Senate to convene a special session with the Speaker of the House. Special sessions are usually much shorter and more targeted than the regular legislative period.
Highlights of Florida Sports Betting Bills
As announced by LSR, there is little new in the first of Brandes’ three invoices. SB 392 is largely the same as the bill introduced last year that got nowhere. There are three bills being introduced in the Senate.
The leading bill is SB 392, which would allow Floridians over the age of 21 to place bets on a wide variety of sporting events, with the exception of high school and youth sporting events.
The Florida Lottery would be tasked with setting the rules and regulations for a sports betting industry in the United States Sunshine state.
The lottery would be responsible for licensing the operators in a system reminiscent of the operating structure used West Virginia and Tennessee.
In particular, all the leaflets of the sports league that have appeared with increasing regularity are missing on Brandes’ account. There is currently no official league data mandate and no such integrity fee as suggested in new York.
If SB 392 became law, SB 394 would set the tax rate on the bill. The proposed tax rate is 15% of “Amounts received from a sports pool minus only the sum of all amounts actually paid out to customers as winnings is 15 percent.”
The money received initially covers the administrative costs and then goes to the state Trust fund for promoting education.
The final item in Brandes’ trident of the sports betting bills is SB 396, which lists the license fees for applicants applying for a license. The invoice specifies both the initial registration fee and the renewal at $ 100,000. SB 392 stipulates that operators must renew their licenses annually.
Why are there three bills?
The Florida Constitution provides that bills can only cover a single issue. This often results in multiple invoices being filed together, dealing with different but related issues. The aim is to avoid filling bills with a range of funding for unrelated pet projects.
What to do with the bills themselves
The bills obviously go the planning route of relying on consumer volume as the primary method of generating revenue, rather than relying on the high-priced licenses and renewals, a model that is common in places such as the UK Illinois. While these bills tick many boxes for sports bettors, they are unlikely to gain very much traction.
Why are these bills unlikely to go anywhere?
In this attempt to conduct sports betting through the state lottery, at least one crucial component is missing: the Seminole tribe of Florida. In addition to being a gaming powerhouse, the Seminole tribe of Florida is a political force as well.
The state’s contractual relationship with the Seminole tribe provides that any new Class III gambling activity, with limited exceptions, will be included in the definition of covered games under the existing Covenant.
The agreement between the state and the tribe grants the tribe considerable exclusivity to covered games.
Is there any way this works?
Sports betting is a Class III gaming activity. The Federal Register says so, and it seems to be considered a near universal truth among gaming experts.
The 20-year contract, signed in 2010, has already been the subject of extensive legal disputes, with the Seminole tribe dominating the most recent dispute.
It is unclear how these bills would circumvent the pact. Whatever the theory, it almost seems certain that any legislation not including the Seminole tribe’s okay would lead to lengthy litigation.
The theory of how this bill would work in the presence of the contractual relationship between the state and the tribe is paramount, but not the only obstacle. There remains a debate as to whether a 2018 Option measure prevents the state from offering sports betting without option measure.
What about daily fantasy sports?
While these new bills appear to be consumer-friendly, they do not include any measure to explicitly legalize everyday fantasy sports. While many operators continue to operate in Florida, the industry has existed in the shadow of a 1991 Attorney General opinion, which argues violate traditional fantasy sports Florida Statute 849.14.
While legalizing everyday fantasy sports could potentially face many of the same challenges as legalizing sports betting, it seems strange, given the nationwide shift to sports betting, not to include fantasy sports in the group of bills submitted and remove any remaining uncertainties.
So far this year, no bill mentioning fantasy sports has been tabled in either the Senate or the House of Representatives.
How excited should Floridians be about these bills?
Floridians shouldn’t get too excited at the prospect of these bills bringing sports betting to the Sunshine State. However, any discussion about sports betting should be rated positively.
The most likely sports betting delivery vehicle to Florida will be the inclusion of the Seminole tribe. Efforts that do not include the tribe are problematic on several levels, but most noticeably they are likely to be negotiated in a lawsuit that would likely delay any launch for months or even years.