Florida Lawmakers Okay Sports Betting, But No Guarantee Bets Coming Anytime Soon

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The Florida House of Representatives passed sports betting legislation today, a day after the Senate did so, paving the way for what all sides expect to be a court battle on multiple fronts. 

House Bill 2A, the historic compact negotiated between Governor Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe of Florida last month, passed 97-17.

“It doesn’t take a master’s degree to understand this is likely to be litigated,” said state Rep. Bobby Payne (R), a leading supporter of the measure during debate this morning. 

State Rep. Randy Fine (R), another supporter, who also chaired the special Select Committee on Gambling, agreed.

“It could get thrown out,” Fine said, adding there is a “reasonable chance,” this will happen. 

Next Steps For Sports Betting in Florida

Opponents to the measure have promised since it was first announced they would fight the deal. 

The first hurdle the compact faces is approval by the Department of Interior. Since the deal involves tribal land the Secretary of Interior must sign off on it.  Deb Haaland, the DOI secretary, is a member of the Laguna Pueblo, the first Native American to serve in a presidential cabinet.

If Haaland approves, gambling opponents could still take the deal to court because they feel it violates a statewide referendum where voters in 2018 overwhelmingly approved a measure giving them — and not lawmakers — the authority to allow expanded gambling opportunities in the state. 

About the Author

Mary M. Shaffrey

Mary Shaffrey is an award-winning journalist who co-authored "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Government." She has spent more than 20 years covering government, both at the state and federal level. As a fan of the Baltimore Orioles and the Providence College Friars she feels cursed. Luckily she is a hockey mom too so her spirits aren't totally shot.

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