The Florida House of Representatives has voted to approve a gaming compact that would permit the Seminole Tribe to offer sports wagering in the US state, meaning it now may go to the federal Department of the Interior.
The House yesterday (May 19) passed the bill to enact the compact by a vote of 97-17, just one day after the state’s Senate also voted to approve the measure.
The bill will now move to the US Secretary of the Interior for approval and ratification, prior to it coming into law and opening up sports betting to the Seminole Tribe.
The compact, which was first announced in April, is set to exclusively permit the tribe to run sports betting in Florida, with permission to partner with the state’s pari-mutuel operators.
Florida Senator Travis Hutson introduced a bill to implement the compact last week, but this ran into trouble when lawmakers raised concerns over a provision related to online casino.
The original version of the compact stated that the state and tribe would “engage in good faith negotiations” within the next three years to allow the tribe to offer online casino gaming.
However, during a special session, House Speaker Chris Sprowls said he and other members of the house opposed this clause, saying it could lead to a “backdoor expansion” of online gaming in the state.
Following talks between lawmakers and the tribe, it was agreed that the clause would be dropped and an amended version of the compact be produced, which was subsequently approved by the Senate.
The House’s decision to pass the bill comes despite reservations from some members who argued that – by including statewide online betting – the compact could only be approved by referendum, not by the legislature. Article 3 of Florida’s constitution says that a referendum is required to allow casino games off of tribal lands.