A state senator in Florida introduced legislation last week that would legalize sports betting in the Sunshine State.
Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes filed SB 968, which would legalize sports betting both online and at brick-and-mortar locations. He told local media that he wants to get rid of the black market sportsbooks that are still serving those in his state.
“There’s a $150 billion illicit market today,” said Brandes about sports betting. “We’re just trying to take it out of the shadows and bring it into the sunshine.”
Like what many other states have done, the Florida Lottery will serve as the regulatory body in charge of the industry. It will cost operators $100,000 to obtain a license and would be taxed at a rate of 15 percent of gross revenue.
The bill states that all tax revenue generated from sports betting would go directly towards the state’s education fund.
Aside from allowing online betting, which not every state has gone for, but has proven crucial to a market’s success, the bill would allow betting at kiosks located in stadiums. Brandes’ bill would allow professional sports teams in Florida to mimic those in the nation’s capital, where a sportsbook will be operational in Capital One Arena, home of the Washington Wizards and Capitals.
“There’s nothing that would prevent any of the professional sports teams from applying and having a portion of their venue be dedicated towards self-service kiosks,” said Brandes. “Even while the game is in progress.”
Those involved with a team, however, would not be allowed to place bets. The bill would block anyone that could have inside information about a sporting event from placing a wager. It would also prohibit anybody with a financial stake in a professional team from betting as well.
Unfortunately for proponents of sports betting, the legal landscape in Florida doesn’t give much hope for passage. The bill will likely face pushback from the Seminole Tribe and Disney.
The tribe operates under a compact with the state, which gives them exclusivity on certain gambling activities. It is not likely the Seminoles would support a bill that they didn’t have a say in helped block a similar bill last year.
As one of Florida’s main tourist attractions, Disney has historically opposed any sort of gambling within Florida’s borders. In 2014, Disney was one of the main opponents to Sheldon Adelson’s proposed South Florida casino, claiming gambling expansion would hurt Florida’s “family-friendly image.”