The state of Florida and its lawmakers are ready to consider sports betting again in 2020. Republican Senator Jeff Brandes submitted three different bills (SB 968, SB 970, and SB 972) that will be the impetus of mobile betting run by the Florida Lottery.
Of the three bills, SB 968 is the one that holds the most weight. Although it doesn’t clearly state which sports would be available to bet on, professional and amateur sports are specified.
All three of the bills don’t have tribal sports betting mentioned in them, and that is quite interesting considering Florida’s Seminole tribe has tons of political power and a huge gaming footprint in the state. It was only a year ago that negotiations with the Seminoles broke down the talks on legalizing sports betting, which is where the two sides stand currently.
“This bill stands virtually zero chance of passing,” said John Holden, assistant professor at Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State. “Sports betting happening in Florida without the blessing of the Seminole tribe is about as likely as a Giants Super Bowl victory this season. If anything, this bill seems likely to exacerbate tensions between the Seminole tribe and the state.”
The thought is that sports betting would happen via mobile methods or kiosks run by the Florida Lottery. While the bills do not allow the Florida Lottery to partner with outside commercial operators, SB 970 calls for a $100,000 application and renewal fee, with the applications needing to be renewed annually.
It’s also worth noting that Brandes’ SB 968 doesn’t have companion legislation in the state’s House of Representatives. This means that sports betting in The Sunshine State will take a while to become a reality, much to the dismay of the public.
In addition, the state’s legislative calendar throws some major hurdles in the way. When it comes to even-numbered years, the Florida Senate meets for 60 consecutive days beginning “on the second Tuesday after the first Monday in January of even-numbered year,” according to the senate’s web site.
Breaking it down, that means the first hearing for the Florida Senate would be in mid-January of 2020.
“I would say there are a couple of things to that – not only do the Seminoles decide to stump on this, but also the Mouse,” said Consultant Brendan Bussmann of Global Market Advisors, in relation to Disney’s large presence in the state of Florida.
“That goes back to the unholy alliance of getting past the greatest obstacle to getting sports betting approved in Florida – the local vote. “It’s easier to try to squash an expansion of gaming at a local level than trying to do it state-wide. Requiring local approval also adds another wrinkle in terms of the timeline.”
This would be a dream scenario for Florida to get sports betting legalized. Much like California and Texas, some of the larger states in distance and population, the state of Florida has numerous major cities and professional and college teams that would certainly keep business booming. However, just like the larger states that came before them, no deals are in place just yet.