The Seminole Tribe of Florida reached sports betting agreements with 5 pari-mutuel facilities across the state – the Palm Beach Kennel Club, Tampa Bay Downs, Hialeah Park Casino, Tampa-based TGT Poker & Racebook, and Ocala Gainesville Poker and Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.
The major gambling deal between the federally-recognized tribe and the state of Florida, which was negotiated by Governor Ron DeSantis in the spring and was officially approved during the Legislature’s special session in May, allows the Seminoles with the right to offer online sports betting services to local customers.
However, part of the deal also urged the Seminole Tribe to reach agreements with statewide pari-mutuel facilities that would market the new form of gambling and get a 60% portion of the profits that sports betting services generate.
So far, the Seminole Tribe of Florida has shared expectations to sign agreements with some other pari-mutuel venues, too, but has not announced an exact date when sports betting will officially begin.
The CEO of Seminole Gaming, Jim Allen, who also chairs Hard Rock International, revealed in a prepared statement that the announcement followed through on the commitment of the Seminole Tribe to include pari-mutuel marketing partners in sports betting services in Florida. He also described pari-mutuel facilities as an important part of the upcoming launch of the new gambling services in the state.
Tribal Sports Betting Services Expected to Bring $2.5 Billion to the State in 5 Years
Sports betting was considered illegal in most states across the country until 2018 when the US Supreme Court decided to strike down the federal ban on the practice in a long-running New Jersey lawsuit. Since then, US states have been able to decide whether to add sports betting to their legal gambling markets or not, and many have taken advantage of the legislative change, at least in part, as a way to generate further tax revenue.
Under the provisions of the new Florida law, local gamblers are allowed to place wagers on sports events both in brick-and-mortar venues and online on their mobile devices. Pari-mutuels that sign contracts with the Seminole Tribe of Florida will be able to market sports betting on their facilities.
The gaming agreement between the state and the federally recognized Native American tribe is expected to bring $2.5 billion to Florida’s coffers over the first 5 years of the compact, and then rise to an even further extent. In exchange, the Seminole Tribe will be allowed to operate sports betting and add new casino games to its tribal casino offering.
On October 28th, the tribe revealed that it made the first payment worth $37 million in October.
Governor Ron DeSantis has described the new compact as “historic” because it will not only bring massive revenue to the state but also brings a partnership between the Seminole Tribe and pari-mutuel businesses operating across the state, and this will guarantee safe and transparent sports betting services in Florida.
Seminole Tribe’s Gaming Compact with the State Facing Some Legal Hurdles
The gaming compact of the Seminole Tribe and the state has, however, faced some legal challenges on the way.
As CasinoGamesPro previously reported, owners of pari-mutuels Bonita Spring Poker Room in the southwestern part of the state and Magic City Casino in Miami-Dade County have filed legal action in Washington District court, and so did two businessmen from South Florida, along with the group No Casinos.
The pending federal lawsuits have been filed against the US Department of the Interior, which is responsible for the oversight of Indian Tribes’ gambling issues and was the one who allowed the Seminoles’ gaming compact to move forward.
The federal lawsuit, which was filed by the owners of the two aforementioned casinos in Tallahassee as they feared that legal sports betting services operated by the Seminole Tribe of Florida would hurt their businesses, was dismissed by a US District Court Judge earlier in October.