Sports Wagering and Expanded Gaming Headed to Florida

On April 23, 2021, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a thirty-year gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida (the “Tribe”) that is intended to bring sports wagering, craps, and roulette to the Sunshine State.  The compact, which the Governor’s office hailed as, “Larger and more expansive than any other gaming compact in U.S. history,” is projected to bring Florida over six billion dollars in revenue over the next decade.

The compact will permit the Tribe to offer sports wagering directly at its seven casinos and through a mobile platform.  Moreover, the Tribe may also offer branded sports wagering through the kiosks or mobile applications of partnering Qualified Pari-mutuel Permit Holders, which include horse tracks, jai-alai frontons, former dog tracks, cardrooms, and slot machine facilities.  Further, the compact permits Qualified Pari-mutuel Permit Holders to relocate, although the Tribe must approve certain moves.  However, by requiring that all sports wagering servers be on tribal land, all retail and mobile wagering will be deemed to be conducted by the Tribe at tribal facilities.

The seventy-four-page compact also creates further opportunities for wagering in Florida by allowing the construction of three new casino facilities on the Tribe’s Hollywood Reservation and confirming that non-tribal entities may conduct fantasy sports contests without violating tribal exclusivity.  However, through the compact, the Tribe agreed that it will not build a Las Vegas-style casino resort on its Brighton or Big Cypress Reservations.

Taxes and Payments

The compact includes a tax rate of 10% of net win received by the Tribe from sports wagering via Qualified Pari-mutuel Permit Holders and 13.75% on all other sports wagering.  Additionally, there is a minimum tax of 12% on slot machines, raffles and drawings, and a minimum 15% tax on table games.  Further, for all wagering, the Tribe has agreed to pay the State of Florida at least $2.5 billion by the end of the fifth year of the compact with $1.5 billion of that due by the end of the third year.  However, in yet another example of the effects of COVID, the compact specifically lists the impact of a “pandemic” as one of the events that may lower the minimum guarantee.

For their part, Qualified Pari-mutuel Permit Holders can receive no more than 40% of the total net win from the Tribe as a result of limitations put into place by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

Remaining Requirements

In order to take effect, the new compact must be ratified by the Florida Legislature, however, the Regular Session of the Legislature ends on April 30, 2021.  Accordingly, Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson and House Speaker Chris Sprowls have agreed to convene a Special Session of the Legislature beginning May 17, 2021 to address the compact.  Additionally, the compact must also be approved by the Secretary of the Department of the Interior.

Key Components

  • 30-year term
  • Covered Gaming Activity includes:
    • Slot Machines
    • Raffles and Drawings
    • Table Games – now including craps and roulette
    • Fantasy Sports Contests
    • Sports Wagering
    • Any new game authorized by Florida law for any person for any purpose
  • $2.5 billion revenue-sharing guarantee in first five years
  • Official League Data not required for Sports Wagering
  • Three new facilities permitted on Hollywood Reservation
  • Retail wagering on tribal property and through Qualified Pari-mutuel Permit Holders
  • Mobile wagering permitted across state
  • All sports wagering ultimately operated through the Tribe and legally occurs on tribal land

If you have any questions about this please contact Adam BergerSteven J. Brody, or any of the attorneys in our Gaming Industry Group.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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