Florida’s Gaming Compact is Ready—But New Resistance Indicates Long Road to ‘Legality’

By  //  June 30, 2021

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Sports betting fans in Florida rejoiced following news that the state had reached an agreement with the Seminole Tribe over a new gaming compact—but it could be a long wait before it’s truly ‘legal’.

That’s after No Casinos, a group railing against the expansion of gaming in Florida, filed a request for the federal government’s Interior Department to dismiss the state’s Class III compact.

NBC Miami reported as far back as April that Governor Ron DeSantis had succeeded in getting a deal over the line that would ‘greatly expand’ Florida’s betting capabilities.

However, one factor in the deal that was long expected to cause controversy was the fact wagers must take place on tribal land—a difficult stipulation to enforce given the compact also allowed mobile betting from the comfort of one’s home, reported Illinois Gambler.  

And it’s now emerged No Casinos president John Sowinski has filed a letter with the U.S. Department of the Interior requesting that federal lawmakers cancel the compact altogether:

“The voices of the Seminole Tribe and the people of Florida were in complete harmony with the passage of Amendment 3, which ‘ensures that Florida voters shall have the exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling in the State of Florida. 

“Importantly, rejecting this compact is not a rejection of the Seminole Tribe. It simply sends the matter back to Tallahassee with the very clear message of ‘get it right’ with an agreement that benefits both the Tribe and State, while honoring the intent of IGRA (Indian Gaming Regulatory Act) and will of Florida voters.”

Space Coast Daily previously dissected the numbers of the Seminole agreement, which promises to bring the state $2.5 billion over the first five years and a total $6 billion before 2030.

The initiative has clearly had a positive impact on DeSantis’ stock in certain circles after Business Insider’s Tom LoBianco reported the Florida Governor recently beat former U.S. President Donald Trump in a 2024 straw poll:

The Florida Republican has rolled the dice with his decision to promote looser gambling laws in the state and appears to have won as far as his national profile is concerned.

It has been noted that the Interior Department, the office with which Sowinski has filed his complaint, is run by Laguna Pueblo tribe member Deb Haaland.

Democrat Haaland is a former U.S. representative for New Mexico’s first congressional district, not to mention the first Native American to serve as a cabinet secretary.

Legal challenges were always expected to follow in wake of the news that Florida had taken such a significant step towards betting legalisation, particularly in the online format.

More than half of the United States has adopted some form of legislation to permit sports betting since the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 was repealed several years ago.

The Sunshine State has long been opposed to gambling in most forms and wasn’t expected to make such swift moves towards giving mobile betting the green light, though proponents of the move have a long way to go before it’s truly over the line.