Florida lawmaker introduces sports betting legislation

It looks like Florida will be taking another swing at legalizing sports betting in 2020.

On Monday, Senator Jeff Brandes filed three bills in the state senate to regulate and legalize sports wagering in Florida.

The three bills, SB 968, SB 970 and SB 972 would place the state lottery in charge of sports betting and allow other operators to apply for sports betting licenses. Both online and land-based sports betting would be authorized under the proposed legislation.

Looking closer at the bills

The first piece of legislation, SB 968, outlines the general framework for sports betting in Florida. The bill would grant the Department of the Lottery the power to develop sports betting rules and regulations.

According to a passage of text in SB 968, “a licensee may have individually branded websites for the purposes of offering a sports pool, each of which may have an accompanying mobile application bearing the same brand.” This text implies that operators will be able to offer multiple sports betting brands or ‘skins.’

The second bill, SB 970, covers the application process and sets the application fee for a sports betting license at $100,000.

The third bill, SB 972 sets a tax rate of 15% on gross gaming revenue, which will be put towards the lottery’s operating trust fund to help the lottery cover administrative and educational costs.

The situation in Florida

Lawmakers in the state attempted to legalize sports betting in 2018, but this attempt ultimately failed due to negotiations with the Seminole Tribe which operates several casinos under a compact with the state.

The attempt to legalize sports betting will also need to contend with Amendment 3 which was passed in November 2018. Amendment 3 is a constitutional amendment which gives voters in Florida the “exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling in the state.”

This effectively removes the state’s elected officials from the decision-making process when it comes to the process of implementing casino gambling in the state’s establishments.

Although one could argue that sports wagering is not a form of “casino gambling,” the legalization of sports wagering could still face challenges from tribes in the state who feel they hold the exclusive rights to offer sports betting.

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