Special Legislative Session Slated to Iron Out Florida Gaming Compact with the Seminole Tribe


The Florida Legislature will hold a special session to discuss the gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida on May 17. However, the tribe is not the only one with interests on the line. Multiple national and international casino gambling corporations, smaller casinos, internet gambling, thoroughbred racing, fantasy sports betting, and greyhound dog race betting are among those with interest in the outcomes of the compact.

As Florida becomes a more popular spot for gambling and betting, the state, the tribes, and invested industries are hoping previous years of tension will end in a new 30-year compact benefitting each party.

The compact itself, a 75-page document, is comprised of multiple bills and countless amendments needing to be debated and discussed with numerous lobbyists working on behalf of the interested parties to ensure their issue or deal is included.

The contents of the compact consists of the Seminole Tribe being able to: add craps and roulette to their casinos, launch sports betting, contracting with non-tribal casinos to operate sports betting lounges, working with large Las Vegas-style casinos with the tribe’s name on the building, expansion of casino buildings to tribal owned lands in Coconut Creek or Immokalee.

In return, the State of Florida will be a part of a $2.5 billion revenue sharing deal. Also, Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson’s (R-10) office said the state will receive as much as $6 billion in revenue from now until 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,” said Simpson’s office to senators.

In terms of racing, Hialeah Park Race Track would be able to expand mixed-use buildings for shopping, gambling, as well as some residential structures. Properties near tribal lands, like Trump National Doral and Fontainebleau Miami Beach are looking to expand to include game rooms. Each of these organizations and their upgrades are contingent upon the legislation passed as part of the compact.

Sports betting companies, DraftKings and FanDuel would be shut out of operation in Florida due to the Seminole Tribe being granted exclusive rights to sports gaming and betting.

With all of the potential development and revenue, the opposition to the expanded casinos, No Casinos, have their own lobbyists working against the compact. The organization says they are already planning for a court challenge to the deal citing Amendment 3 (2018), where Florida voters enshrined explicit voter approval for expanded gambling in the Florida Constitution.

President of No Casino, John Sowinski, said Florida would likely become the second biggest gambling state in the nation, only behind Nevada, and Florida’s family-friendly brand would be tarnished, and the compact could violate the Florida Constitution.

“Any expansion of gambling in Florida, if it was casino-style gambling, would require voter approval. And, so, this compact does a number of things that are not on tribal lands. In fact, this agreement paves the way for full-scale, electronic betting of all sorts on phones and electronic devices and mobile devices throughout Florida, not just on tribal lands. It violates amendment three, and more importantly, is an affront to the will of the people of Florida who said they want a voice on these matters not to have these matters worked out and behind closed doors in Tallahassee.”

Simpson is pushing for the compact to be pushed through and would take effect this Fall.

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Grant Holcomb is a reporter at the Florida Capital Star and the Star News Network. Follow Grant on Twitter and direct message tips.
Photo “Casino Gaming Floor” by Calder Casino CC4.0







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