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Florida Becomes Biggest State By Population To Legalize Digital Sports Betting

But even lawmakers say that provision likely won't hold up in court

In what seemed very much like a predetermined outcome, the Florida House of Representatives on Wednesday ratified the new gaming compact between the state and the Seminole Indian Tribe, 97-17. The approval came after an hour of debate and attempts at multiple amendments, making Florida the biggest state by population to legalize sports wagering since the fall of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act on May 14, 2018.

The compact all but creates a monopoly for the Seminole Indian Tribe, which is already the driver of gaming in Florida. Any and all sports bets — even if made on mobile devices or via parimutuel partners — must “go through servers” placed on tribal lands, and the tribe gets a cut.

All involved, including those who voted in favor of the compact, believe it is subject to legal challenges, and that there is a possibility that the U.S. Department of the Interior will not approve it. The legislature did not write — and therefore cannot amend — the compact, which was agreed upon between Gov. Ron DeSantis and the tribe in April.

“It doesn’t take a master’s degree to know that there will be litigation,” said Rep. Sam Garrison during discussion.

Said Speaker of the House Chris Sprowls: “I don’t think there’s any chance of doing a gaming deal to the size and scope that was negotiated by Gov. DeSantis without a legal challenge. You are navigating the icebergs of legal hurdles as you do this.”

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