lorida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday signed into law a series of gambling-related measures approved by state legislators during a special session held earlier this month.
SB 2-A authorized a 30-year gambling compact inked by the governor and Seminole Tribe of Florida Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr. in April. Per the deal, the tribe will be able to operate sports betting and add roulette and craps to its casinos, and Florida would potentially receive $20 billion over the next 30 years, with $2.5 billion over the first five years of the agreement. Online sports betting operated by the tribe also would be allowed.
The deal requires the Seminoles to contract with at least three pari-mutuels within three months after sports betting goes live and does not allow the tribe to launch sports betting until October 15, Tampa Bay Times reports. The U.S. Department of the Interior, which oversees tribal gaming, has 45 days following ratification of the compact to sign off on the agreement, reject it or allow it to go into effect without the agency’s approval. However, even lawmakers supporting the deal expect legal challenges.
In addition, DeSantis on Tuesday also signed a measure (SB 4-A) that creates a five-member Florida Gaming Control Commission. The members of the commission will be appointed by the governor, require confirmation by the Florida Senate, and serve four-year terms.
The governor also signed a bill that could put an end to most live horse racing and jai alai games in Florida. SB 8-A would allow pari-mutuel operators to drop harness racing, quarter-horse racing and jai alai but keep more-lucrative card rooms and, in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, slot machines. After voter approval of a 2018 constitutional amendment, the new law could mean that only thoroughbred horse races will continue at Florida tracks.
Lawmakers agreed to get rid of the requirement — a move known in the gambling industry as “decoupling” — for harness and quarter-horse tracks and jai alai frontons. The new law will take effect when the compact goes into effect.