With Florida tribal deal stalled, senator offers sports betting bill


A Florida lawmaker is trying to push the state and tribes to come to an agreement, and finally open up legal sports betting. State Senator Jeff Brandes proposed three bills in late December, all concerning sports betting.

Device with match results on screen, excited fans on background during match

Bill 392 would authorize the Department of the Lottery to operator sports wagering. In addition, Bill 394 would impose at 15% tax on “sums received from a sports pool,” and Bill 396 creates a $100,000 application and renewal fee for sports wagering licenses. Revenues from the bills would be dedicated to funding education for the state.

Although the bills have strong motivation to pass, considering Florida has an expected $3 billion shortfall in revenue for the next two years, the bills are perceived to be more of a message to the Tribes and state to fix their gaming pact. The legislature ended its 2020 session with no agreement reached.

The Seminole Tribe has objected to Florida’s push to legislate sports wagering without a referendum. A 2018 amendment legislated that any expansion of gambling be voted on by the people, and require 60% to pass. The Seminole Tribe then stopped making monthly payments to the state when their compact expired in 2019, and hasn’t reached a new deal since, citing “a mechanism to shut down the illegal banked card games.”

Senator Brandes’ attempt and brinksmanship could result in one of a few things. The state could get sports betting without the Tribe’s involvement, or the tribes might come back to the bargaining table, or it could force court battles to decide the future.

If the Seminole do come back, the legislature and Governor Ron DeSantis better get on the same page first. A tentative agreement was thrown out by DeSantis in the 2020 session.

Michigan plans for sports betting rollout

Sports betting has been legalized in Michigan, but now it’s a question of when it will be available. “I fully expect that sometime this month we’ll see a launch,” State Senator Curtis Hertel said on January 2. “What exact day it is I’m not sure at this point.”

“I expect every casino in Detroit and most of the tribes will have a partner and will be online,” Hertel added. “I think we’re talking about a dozen different offerings that will be available.”

Navajo Nation hurting

Still under a Covid-19 lockdown, the news keeps getting worse for Navajo Gaming. Four casinos owned by the group furloughed 1,100 employees, announcing the layoffs on New Year’s Eve.

“COVID-19 has had devastating costs and without Navajo leadership, it, no doubt, would have been worse,” said Navajo Gaming Board Chair Quincy Natay. “However, we are a resilient and adaptable Nation. We rise to the occasion, sacrifice, and find a balance.”

Connecticut legislature to consider sports betting

Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney is warning that Connecticut better adopt sports betting before it falls behind the rest of the nation, and hopes to see progress this year. If the Governor reaches a deal with Tribes and everything gets sorted out, DraftKings has a deal in place with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation to get things started.

Eagle Mountain Casino is moving

The Tule River Tribe’s Eagle Mountain Casino is moving to Porterville, California! The move will allow the tribe to focus their water supply on local housing needs, and make the trip to the casino shorter for many of its patrons. “We are grateful to the Office of Indian Gaming, the BIA Regional Office and the Assistant Secretary’s office for their service to Indian Country and for helping us create much needed jobs and provide opportunities for the local community.,” noted Tribal Chairman Neil Peyron.

Spokane Tribe Casino to double in size

The Spokane Tribe of Washington have broken ground on an expansion project, looking to add 20,000 square feet to their casino in Airway Heights. The construction is expected to be completed in late 2021, with new expansion plans expected to be announced that that time.

Caesars and Cherokee make a deal

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians have agreed to buy a southern Indian casino from Caesars Entertainment for $250 million. The 20-year-old casino will add to the Cherokee’s efforts to expand their holdings, and ward off threats from other growing tribal gaming operations.

Wind Creek offers online sports betting with Betfred

In a partnership with Betfred U.S.A. Sports, Wind Creek Bethlehem have launched their online sports betting platform for Pennsylvania. “Launching the online sportsbook provides a dynamic element to our online gaming experience that enables our guests to engage with us and play from anywhere they like while in Pa. without requiring any traveling,” said Ken Rohman, chief marketing officer of Wind Creek Hospitality. “We are proud to add online sports betting to the Wind Creek Casino online portfolio, and close out 2020 with yet another offering for our valued guests.”