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Florida Lawmaker Pre-Files Sports Betting Legislation

Sen. Jeff Brandes Submitted The Legislation, Which Does Not Involve The Seminole Tribe, Just Before The End Of 2020

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A Florida lawmaker pre-filed a piece of legislation just before the end of 2020 that would legalize sports betting in the Sunshine State.

Sen. Jeff Brandes, a Republican representing St. Petersburg, pre-filed SB 392 last week for the 2021 legislative session, which gets underway in March. The proposal would give the state lottery the ability to regulate the industry and revenue from sports betting would be used to aid the state’s public education fund, according to a local CBS affiliate.

The bill would also prohibit athletes, coaches, referees, and anyone working with an athletic governing body from wagering on any of the approved events.

Brandes submitted a nearly identical bill last year, but it didn’t gain any traction and eventually died because it didn’t include the Seminole Tribe, which has a monopoly on traditional casino gambling in the state.

The tribe’s current agreement with the state gives them exclusivity over Class III gaming and the tribe has already made the argument that sports betting, although not legal yet, falls under that umbrella.

A different Republican lawmaker successfully crafted a deal with the Seminole Tribe in 2019 in hopes of passing sports betting legislation. The agreement would allow pari-mutuel facilities to operate sportsbooks as well as the Seminole’s six casinos, but the proposed bill was not approved.

It’s likely that if any sports betting legislation will be passed in Florida this year, the tribe needs to be a part of the deal.

The push for sports betting in many states will continue throughout the 2021 legislative season as other states are already signaling that the issue will be one of the major issues discussed this year.

In early December, a Connecticut lawmaker said that sports betting is a lock to be legalized this year and at the end of the month, New York legislators began to push for mobile sports betting in the Empire State. Currently, New York only permits sports betting at its upstate brick-and-mortar casinos.