Sports betting in Florida breaks through obstacles and takes on others

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NS. Petersburg, Florida – During this NFL season, Florida sports fans could finally get the chance to legally bet on their favorite team. It can mean a big dip in new state revenue, but legal hurdles can stand in the way.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the Super Bowl at home, the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup in a row and the Tampa Bay Rays won the trip to the World Series.

Professional sports teams have dubbed our region “Champa Bay”.

“People are already betting on sports”

Sports fans like Rob Coronado benefit from betting on their home team.

Coronado told us while watching a baseball game last afternoon at Fergs Sports Bar in St. Petersburg.

He is far from being the only one to secretly bet on sports.

When we asked Rob Stammy about it, he admitted that all of his friends have bet on sports.

“Why do people have to go behind the scenes or all of these apps to access them? Stammy asked. “Therefore, the legalization of sports betting makes it easier for all of us sports enthusiasts. “

Florida Senator Jeff Brandes sponsored a law last year calling for the legalization of sports betting, allowing the state to ultimately share a portion of its profits.

“People are already betting on sports. They’ve been betting sports in Florida for years. Again, we all generally have the opposite view. Unlike the current situation, they’re just creating a legal way to do it, ”Brandes said.

However, Senator Brandes’ law, which would bring sports betting under the control of the Florida Lottery, was not passed.

Compact could pay the state $ 6 billion by 2030

Instead, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced in April that he had reached a 30-year interim deal with the Seminole Indian tribe that runs the Hard Rock Casino.

The transaction included the offer of face-to-face and online sports betting.

Related: Governor Desantis Signs New Gaming Contract With Seminole

Under the deal, the Seminoles will pay Florida up to $ 6 billion in sports betting revenue by 2030. That’s $ 277 per Florida resident.

The deal was approved by the state legislature and has encountered no opposition from the US Department of the Interior, which regulates Indian gambling.

But not everyone, including Senator Brandes, endorsed the deal.

“Basically we are monopolizing the Seminoles to provide sports betting to Florida. I voted against this monopoly. I don’t think this is the right way. I think we should open it up so the market can decide where people want to bet and not have to go through just one channel, which is a tribe from Florida, ”Brandes said. ..

Procedures filed and referendum required

Compact is currently being challenged in federal court by two South Florida commercial gaming companies, claiming Compact is harmful to their business and violates the law.

The procedure states that mobile sports betting should not have been awarded on a consensual basis.

“Unlike the legal fiction created by the Compact and Enforcement Act of 2021, bets are placed on both the bettor and the location of the casino,” the complaint states.

“One can interpret that sports betting can only be done on tribal property,” Brandes said.

Related: Florida Could Become Most Populated State With Mobile Sports Betting If Lawmakers Approve New Rules

The state has filed a motion to dismiss, but the judge has yet to rule.

Other companies, including DraftKings and FanDuel, are looking to participate in Florida’s sports betting action by sponsoring a voting initiative that opens sports betting to other companies.

If it appears on the ballot next year, the extension must be approved with a 60 percent vote.

ABC Action News was scheduling an interview with Hard Rock CEO Jim Allen, who helped create the Seminole Compact, but his spokesperson later canceled it because he was too busy to speak.

The Seminoles recently advertised on Florida television stations, including ABC Action News, to promote the benefits of the deal.

“People are already playing. How would you like to earn money with it? Said Mark Ferguson, owner of Ferguson Sports Bar.

Ferguson says he doesn’t care who’s behind him and thinks legal sports betting is good for both Florida and business.

“People want to watch 6 or 7 games at a time, and when you have 90 TVs, we’re the perfect place for that,” he said.

In the event of a dismissal, sports betting could be authorized as early as next month.

If taken to court, the issue may not be resolved until next year.

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