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DeSantis, Seminole Tribe reach deal to legalize sports gambling

Special session set for May 17
Woman wins $3.8 million jackpot on $1 slot machine at Seminole Hard Rock
Posted at 12:50 PM, Apr 23, 2021

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Governor Ron DeSantis reached an agreement with the Seminole Tribe on Friday to legalize sports gambling in Florida.

Lawmakers will host a special session to review and approve the deal on May 17.

Under the plan, fans could place bets anywhere from pro sports stadiums to existing casinos, with all wagers being handled by servers on Tribe property.

"More people will come to Florida as we’re seeing because of COVID. People want the sunshine. They want the beaches. Now there’s another reason for them to come," said Mark Ferguson, Founder of Ferg's Sports Bar.

The plan would also allow the Seminole Tribe to offer online sports betting.

It's estimated that the legalization of sports betting in Florida would bring in around $500 million-plus in revenue, allowing lawmakers to balance budget sheets without cutting into healthcare, education, or infrastructure reserves.

Reportedly, the Seminole Tribe would control sports betting in Florida and would offer it at their casinos as an expansion to the existing gambling alternatives. The Seminole Tribe would likely use their major Hard Rock locations in Hollywood and Tampa.

Alternatively, sports betting would also be allowed at existing tracks, poker, and wager rooms around the state where the tribe and other operators would split the profits.

Twenty-seven states have legalized the practice and if approved, the Sunshine State would become the largest state in the country to approve sports gambling.

A statement from the Office of the Senate President, Wilton Simpson, included the following:

"The 2021 Compact creates a $2.5 billion revenue-sharing guarantee in the first five years, with $6 billion in new revenues for Florida through 2030. By comprehensively addressing issues raised for almost a decade, the 2021 Compact will maximize revenues for the state and provide new opportunities for both the Tribe and Florida’s pari-mutuel businesses by updating Florida law to better reflect the current gaming climate.

Some of the highlights of the new Compact with the Seminole Tribe include:
• A new 30-year term;
• Craps and Roulette;
• Additional facilities on the Tribe’s Hollywood reservation;
• Enhanced revenue sharing brackets and;
• Statewide online sports betting in partnership with the pari-mutuels."

The agreement would also need approval from the U.S. Department of the Interior which oversees tribal gambling operations.