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Gov. DeSantis signs Florida gaming bills into law

The move brings the Sunshine State one step closer to allowing sports gambling.
Credit: 10 Tampa Bay

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida is one step closer to bringing sports betting to some tribal casinos after on Tuesday Gov. Ron DeSantis signed bills related to gaming after a special legislative session.

The governor's office sent the bill signings out in an email Tuesday evening. 

A 30-year compact reached between Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe of Florida would bring sports betting, plus expanded table games, to the state. Right off the bat, lawmakers announced two changes to the proposed sports betting compact. 

DeSantis' deal with the Seminole Tribe would legalize sports betting in Florida, which would be operated exclusively by the tribe. It would also add craps and roulette at the tribe’s casinos.

In exchange, the state gets a guarantee of $2.5 billion over the next five years and $6 billion by the year 2030.

The Florida Legislature held a special session to consider the agreement just weeks after the annual 60-day session came to an end.

Anti-gambling groups say placing sports bets through smartphones could occur off tribal land even if the computer servers processing them were housed on tribal land. That, they argue, would still be a violation of federal law.

Lawyers who specialize in this sort of thing say the compact might also violate Amendment Three. It was passed by voters in 2018, giving Florida citizens the right to decide issues related to gambling that occurs off tribal land.

DeSantis has said the state and the Seminole Tribe are prepared to vigorously defend the agreement in court.

In addition to possible legal challenges, whatever comes out of the special session would also have to be approved by the Seminole Tribal Council and the U.S. Department of the Interior, which oversees tribal gaming operations.

Lawmakers are also discussing the formation of a Florida gaming control commission to police the industry.

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