Florida Removes Online Gambling From Compact, Keeps Sports Betting

  • Florida has removed language relating to future online gambling expansion from its compact with the Seminole Tribe.
  • The compact originally included a provision for negotiation regarding full online gambling expansion by the tribe.
  • The compact is on the floor of the Florida State Senate on Tuesday.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida’s renegotiated compact with the Seminole Tribe has been stripped down and refined.

Gone are any references to statewide online gambling, according to Florida Speaker of the House Chris Sprowls, who released a statement on the matter.

“In my discussions with our Members, I realized many shared the same concern as I—that some language in the compact could be construed to lead to the backdoor expansion of online gaming. Even the mere possibility of this was unacceptable, and therefore Chairman Renner, Chairman Fine and I engaged directly with the Seminole Tribe on this issue,” said Sprowls.

The original wording of the compact negotiated between the Seminole Tribe and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis called for negotiations within 36 months to see if the Tribe could offer online gambling outside of the context of sports betting.

Sports betting - and online sports betting - remains in the compact, and will be the subject of debate in the Florida state legislature.

This is an intriguing - and potentially important - change to the compact, especially in the context of potential challenges to the compact under Florida’s constitution, which was amended in 2018 to prevent further expansion of gambling.

While the 2018 amendment does have a carveout for gambling expansion done via the Seminole Tribe, legal challenges are still a likely outcome.

This move could preemptively defang those legal challenges, and make the compact itself less odious to anti-gambling advocates.

Still, John Sowinski, president of the No Casinos group, was steadfast in his criticism of the bill.

“The compact relies on us buying the idea that if you are standing anywhere in Florida with your phone in your hand, you are placing a bet on tribal lands,” said Sowinski.

The Seminole Tribe argued that the servers themselves would be stored on tribal lands, thereby meeting the requirements set out in 2018’s Amendment 3.

On Tuesday, the Florida State Senate will be hearing multiple bills that would ratify the compact, establish an oversight commission, and alter other aspects of gambling in Florida.

The hearings began at 10:00 a.m. EST and will last until 5:30 p.m. EST.