WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — A 30-year compact reached between Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe of Florida earlier this year to bring sports betting and expanded table games to the state won't be blocked by the federal government.
The United States Department of Interior chose to take no action to either approve or disapprove of the compact and instead let the 45-day window expire, effectively giving the deal the green light.
But the deal isn't moving forward without concerns.
"The Department has concerns regarding the inclusion of provisions relating to jurisdiction over tort claims and mandatory vendor contracts. We also believe it is important that the Department address the provisions relating to internet gaming activities and revenue sharing," the Department wrote in a letter to the Seminole Tribe.
Under the deal, sports betting, exclusively through the Tribe, on professional and collegiate sports will be legal in Florida.
"Such wagering is deemed to be exclusively conducted by the Tribe at the location of the servers that process such wagering activity of the Tribe's Indian lands," the Department wrote. It added that the player placing bets must also be located within the state of Florida.
According to a letter sent to the Tribe, no proposition bets on collegiate sports will be allowed.The compact also allows the Tribed to open three additional facilities on its Hollywood Reservation
"The Department commends the Tribe's extraordinary accomplishments in its gaming endeavors and wishes the Tribe continued success," the Department wrote.
However, craps and roulette can be added at the tribe’s casinos.
In exchange for the compact, the state gets a guarantee of $2.5 billion over the next five years and $6 billion by the year 2030.
“The final approval of this historic gaming compact is a big deal for the State of Florida,” DeSantis said. “This mutually beneficial agreement will grow our economy, expand tourism and recreation and provide billions in new revenue to benefit Floridians."
“Today is a great day for the people of Florida, who will benefit not only from a $2.5 billion revenue-sharing guarantee over five years, but also from statewide sports betting and new casino games that will roll out this fall and mean more jobs for Floridians and more money invested in this state,” Marcellus Osceola Jr., Chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida added.
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 previously said the state and the Seminole Tribe are prepared to vigorously defend the agreement in court.