When Florida will be expanding gambling, possible court challenges, and what it means

Florida lawmakers on Wednesday gave final approval to a 30-year sports-betting deal with the Seminole Tribe that promises to rake $2.5 billion into state coffers over the first five years of the agreement.

The House passed a measure (SB 2A) in a 97-17 vote on Wednesday, a day after the Senate approved it 38-1. Gov. Ron DeSantis and Seminole Tribe of Florida Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr. reached the deal last month, but it needed legislative ratification.

Starting October 15, you can bet on your favorite sports team just by downloading an app.

"People will be able to use their phones to bet on football, – traditional sports betting – but on your phone through the Seminole Tribe," said Florida Rep. Randy Fine, a Brevard County Republican who chaired the House Select Committee on Gaming.

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Bets would be run through computer servers on tribal property, according to the new deal with the Seminole Tribe. They will also be able to take bets from people on their smartphones as long as they are in the state.

"And by the way, if you are a Florida resident on vacation in Colorado you won't be able to use it," Fine explained. "It's where you are – you will have to be in the state of Florida."

However, the deal is expected to face legal challenges. 

"We are told it doesn’t violate Amendment Three, because it is not an expansion of gambling because, of course, sports betting on our phone apps is happening through servers on tribal lands. LOL," said Florida Rep. Carlos Guillermo-Smith, an Orange County Democrat.

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If it survives, it could mean a lot of new income for the state.

"For some relatively small changes as it relates to the casino world, we will now have 500 million more dollars we can use to advance the interests of the people of Florida," Fine said.

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