Florida Senator Files Sports Betting Bills
Florida state Senator Jeff Brandes (l.) has filed bills to legalize sports betting. He hopes the bills, similar to those that failed last year, will open talks between Florida and the Seminole Tribe, which claims to have exclusivity regarding sports betting.
When Florida’s 60-day legislative session begins March 2, lawmakers will be seeking ways to address the state’s projected $3 billion revenue shortfall over the next two years without raising taxes. After gambling legislation failed to pass in the last two sessions, legislators are expected to consider—but not necessarily pass–proposals to legalize sports betting.
State Senator Jeff Brandes has filed three gambling bills. Senate Bill 392 would allow the Department of the Lottery to license and regulate legal sports wagering in Florida, starting October 1, 2021, with revenue dedicated to education. SB 394 would tax sports betting revenue at 15 percent. And SB 396 would set up $100,000 application and renewal fees for state-issued sports wagering licenses.
Brandes proposed similar bills at the end of the 2020 session. He said he hopes they will encourage talks between Florida and the Seminole Tribe which claims to have exclusivity regarding sports betting, and which stopped making revenue sharing payments to the state due to disagreements over banked card games, control of online gaming and sports wagering. The two sides held compact discussions last year but they went nowhere.
Another consideration concerning sports betting is Amendment 3, which passed in November 2018, requiring any gambling expansion to be approved by 60 percent of voters, bypassing the legislature.
Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson‘s office commented, “President Simpson believes it is important to look at opportunities to maximize revenue for the State of Florida. Discussions continue regarding what is available to us on the private side and also with the Seminole Tribe. At this time, the Senate is not at a point where we are prepared to introduce legislation related to these issues.”