Rolling the Dice: Florida Sports Betting and Gambling

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In Murray v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, the U.S. Supreme Court’s (SCOTUS) decision paved the way for states to enact sports gambling schemes. SCOTUS held that, “Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own.” In essence, SCOTUS found that a federal law banning sports betting and gambling is unconstitutional.

Following this ruling, a flood of state legislatures moved to capitalize on the sports betting market. Recently, Florida State Sen. Jeff Brandes introduced Florida Senate Bill (SB 968), which will authorize individuals to place wagers on sports. In addition, the bill includes regulations for sports betting and gambling and places limits on who, when, and where sports betting may occur.

For example, a person with access to inside knowledge of a sports team may be blocked from placing a bet. Further, SB 968 authorizes the Florida Department of Lottery to administer sports betting and gambling licenses within the state. Licensees will be selected via lottery system and must pay a licensing fee of $100,000 under Senate Bill 970 (SB 970). In addition, licensees must pay 15 percent of their revenue, as a tax, to the Department of Florida Lottery. The tax payment is required under Senate Bill 972 (SB 972).

State Sen. Brandes wants to take the “$150 billion illicit [sports betting and gambling] market . . . out of the [shadows] and bring it into the sunshine.” Brandes recognizes that “in the absence of a well regulated [sports betting and gambling] structure, [Florida has] seen a complex underground industry . . . potentially breeding habits of addiction, while robbing [the Florida] government of revenue that should be collected and remitted for education.” Brandes wishes to use the revenue to fund public schools, college scholarships, and other educational services within the state.

Notably, there is no mention that some of the revenue will be used toward any of the gambling addiction services located within Florida. However, SB 968 requires “licensees to provide patrons with warnings about gambling addiction and information on where to get help.”

Thirteen states have implemented sports betting and gambling schemes. Florida appears be next, but it may face an uphill battle with the Native American Seminole Tribe. Through an agreement with the state (the “Seminole Compact”), the Seminole Tribe owns and operates six casinos throughout the state. Currently, the Seminoles are in a legal battle over casino revenue sharing with the state. Particularly, State Sen. Brandes’ bill does not address the Seminole Tribe. We will continue to monitor Florida’s sports betting and gambling bill.

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