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Package of Sports Betting Bills Reintroduced in Florida
Package of Sports Betting Bills Reintroduced in Florida
The 2021 Florida legislation is likely being eyed up by State Senator Jeff Brandes (R-FL), with the reintroduction of a package containing sports betting bills. The state’s legislative session began in March, and Brandes wanted to be on top of the game when he submitted those bills on Monday, Dec. 28, 2020.
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Three bills were pre-filed by the State Senator, following similar legislation being pitched by him in late 2019. However, due to 2020 being an election year in the United States, the sports betting legislation was never given any sort of dedication. Lawmakers were quite heavily reluctant to really focus on anything that could be conceived as a potentially contentious issue.
The pre-filed sports betting bills were Senate Bill 392 (SB 392), 394 and 396. The first of these provides the outlines for who is and who is not eligible to participate in sports betting within Florida, as well as the licensing requirements and fees attached to such. The role of the Department of Lottery is also included within the bill’s language.
Back in 2019, State Senator Wilton Simply (R-FL), who is now president of the senate itself, proceeded forward with working on a bill alongside the Seminole Tribe of Florida. As the state’s dominant tribal gaming operator, it was hoped that this working in unison would have allowed sports betting to commence at the Seminole casinos in the state. The legislation never managed to advance anywhere, though.
Even if the legislation that has been introduced by Brandes recently does make it to the floor for debate, this is not a guarantee that it will actually receive positive backing. The Sunshine State could still be left without a legal sports betting sector, matching the top online casino and poker scene in Florida at the moment.
High Hopes for the Legislation, but It Faces Some Issues
In 2018, Florida saw its voters pass the Amendment 3 ballot initiative, receiving an overwhelming 71% support. This puts the matter of casino gaming expansions right into the hands of the state’s voters.
According to some experts, sports betting also falls into the same category as casino gaming. Therefore, the issue is not something that can be outrightly legislated, and instead, it remains firmly up to the voters as to if it becomes legal or not.
Of course, this is just one problem. There is also the possibility of commercial and tribal casino operators disagree with one another. The Seminole Tribe does hold Florida’s largest land-based casinos, but commercial setups also have some exposure there.
The popular Caesars casino operates the Isle Casino, as well as the racino in Pompano Park. Casino Miami is owned by billionaire businessman Phil Ruffin, too. And while US online casinos are not active in the state, there is little doubt that they will want in on the state’s sports wagering layout if it happens.
Hope remains for the sports betting scene in Florida, though. Alongside Texas and California, it is one of the largest states population-wise, being home to about 21.5 million residents. Furthermore, Florida is home to nine professional sports teams across the NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB. This makes it quite the sacred cash cow when it comes to the gambling scene for sports. If it is able to legalise this within, then there is no telling how far it could take the state.
In SB 394 by Brandes, he proposes that a tax rate of 15% on operators’ income from sports betting after winnings are paid out be brought into effect. If such were to come into force, Florida would equal the tax rate on sports gambling in Illinois and remain below the 20% that is active in Tennessee.
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