Florida gaming expansion progresses
This week, Florida lawmakers reached a special session, ratifying a deal with the Seminole tribe of Florida that will launch the largest legal gambling expansion in Florida in the past decade, allowing limited “Vegas-style casinos”. As well as online sports betting, via apps.
The measure was negotiated between the Seminole Tribe of Florida and Gov. Ron DeSantis’s office and still requires approval from the US Department of the Interior, which has 45 days to weigh in. If approved, it would significantly expand the Seminole Tribe’s gaming monopoly in Florida.
The Florida Senate approved the pact on Tuesday in a 38-1 vote. The House approved the bill on Wednesday with a 97-17 vote. If approved, Floridians over the age of 21 could start playing legally on their cellphones on October 15.
The Seminole Tribe’s Hard Rock Casinos in Broward and Hillsborough Counties would get full Las Vegas-style gambling, including roulette and craps, while mobile sports betting would be allowed through online apps operated by the Seminole tribe, as well as on existing racetracks and jai-alai in Florida. operations.
Through its Hard Rock casino and resort operations, the Seminole Tribe of Florida has grown into one of the largest gaming entities in the world. Initially opened as an international chain of bars and restaurants called Hard Rock Cafe in the early 1970s, Hard Rock Cafe International was sold to the Seminole Tribe of Florida in 2007, after its success in Florida gambling. given the capital to pursue the iconic brand. . Hard Rock International has venues in 74 countries, including 185 cafes, 25 hotels and 12 casinos.
Under the New Deal, the Seminole Tribe would continue to operate slots, blackjack, and other current games at their existing casinos, but would add the ability to build three new casinos at their existing property outside of Hollywood. , in Florida.
The expansion is the result of an effort to enable the Seminole Tribe to fulfill their guarantee of $ 500 million in annual revenue payments to the state, while still being able to collect a fair profit. Seminole Gaming CEO Jim Allen estimates that operating full casino games will allow him to cover $ 400 million of that amount. If the Home Office approves sports betting, it would have to pay the remaining $ 100 million of the guarantee.
Critics wanted to see more money directly tied to education and other areas where there is a direct social benefit. Additionally, Amendment 3, approved in 2018, requires voter approval for any expansion of the game in Florida, which has led to the assumption that the New Deal will face legal challenges.
Supporters hope to avoid such an interpretation through a so-called “star” model, which forces the Seminole tribe to handle all sports betting made anywhere in the state through an Internet server on its tribal lands. However, the compact also allows licensed racetracks and jai-alai operators outside of reservations to create their own apps and keep 60% of the proceeds from each bet, even if it goes through the Seminole Tribe server.