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Florida legislators hold special session on new sports betting deal

The legislature will consider ratification of the Seminole Gaming Compact starting Monday.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida lawmakers are back at the State Capitol in Tallahassee to convene for a special session to consider a new sports betting deal reached between Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe of Florida. 

The deal would give the Tribe exclusive authorization to offer sports betting in Florida and end disagreements over what games are allowed at state pari-mutuel sites. It would allow for online sports betting in partnership with pari-mutuels.

Gov. DeSantis and the Tribe first agreed to the 30-year gaming compact in April, following months of negotiations. Now, its fate lies with the Florida Legislature. 

If approved, the agreement would create a $2.5 billion revenue-sharing guarantee over the next five years. Florida Senate President Simpson's office says it would generate $6 billion in new revenues for the state through 2030.

"By comprehensively addressing issues raised for almost a decade, the 2021 Compact will maximize revenues for the state and provide new opportunities for both the Tribe and Florida’s pari-mutuel businesses by updating Florida law to better reflect the current gaming climate," Simpson's office wrote in a memorandum sent to all senators.

The updated deal could theoretically let Florida leaders circumvent a 2018 constitutional amendment that gave voters power to approve gaming expansions in the state, according to Florida Politics. By giving control to the sovereign tribal nation, Florida may be able to skirt that roadblock.

The group, "No Casinos", is challenging the compact, saying it authorizes sports betting on non-tribal locations. 

If the new deal passes the legislature, it still has to receive federal approval before going into effect as early as this Fall.

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