The Seminole Tribe is set to become the hub for sports betting in the Sunshine State this fall after the U.S. Department of Interior approved a new 30-year gaming compact between the tribe and the state.
According to a Tampa Bay CBS affiliate, the DOI, which has jurisdiction on anything related to a federally recognized tribe, passed the compact through inaction. Instead of signing off on or vetoing the agreement, the feds decided to let the 45-day window expire, which essentially gives the tribe the go-ahead to move forward with the deal.
With the approval, sports betting will be set to launch in Florida October 15. The new compact will also allow the tribes to expand in-person gaming options, including craps and roulette, while allowing pari-mutuel facilities to offer house-backed card games.
While the feds are allowing it to progress, the agency did have some reservations about it and wrote a letter to the Seminoles to voice possible problems with the relationship between pari-mutuels and the tribe with regards to sports betting. The letter also informed the Tribe that it won’t be allowed to offer proposition bets on college sports.
“The Department has concerns regarding the inclusion of provisions relating to jurisdiction over tort claims and mandatory vendor contracts. We also believe it is important that the Department address the provisions relating to the internet gaming activities and revenue sharing,” the letter read.
Assuming the compact moves forward in its current form, all sports betting would functionally be run through the tribe. Pari-mutuel facilities that want to offer sports betting would have to do through a partnership with the Seminoles.
The pari-mutuel facility would only get to keep 60% of its sports betting revenue, with the other 40% getting sent to the tribe. The Seminoles would fork over 10% of that to the state.
The verbiage in the letter to the tribe makes it appear that the feds have a problem with this type of relationship.
The tribe would be the only entity allowed to offer online or mobile sports betting in the state. Advocates of the compact argue that since the servers are located on tribal land, it adheres to federal standards.
Groups that oppose the deal claim that it violates the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. A lawsuit filed by two pari-mutuel facilities argues that the IRGA only allows for sports betting while on tribal facilities, and that since the person placing the wager could be located outside of that jurisdiction, it violates the law.
Last April, Gov. Ron DeSantis finalized the new compact. He has said that he and the tribe will vigorously fight any opposition in court.
The agreement is guaranteed to net the state government $2.5 billion over the next five years and $6 billion by 2030. It’s estimated to generate $20 billion over the duration of the 30-year deal.
“The final approval of this historic gaming compact is a big deal for the State of Florida,” said DeSantis in a statement. “This mutually beneficial agreement will grow our economy, expand tourism and recreation and provide billion in new revenue to benefit Floridians.”