Miami Beach Mayor Comes Out Swinging Against Florida Sports Betting Compact

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The mayor of Miami Beach, Florida has made clear in no uncertain terms how he feels about the recent compact negotiated between Governor Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe of Florida. 

The compact is “a vehicle hijacked by non-tribal casino interests who fully corrupted the legislative and executive process in order to obtain advantages outside of tribal land and in direct contravention to the interests of Floridians,” Mayor Dan Gelber wrote in a letter to Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland, urging her to reject the compact.

Since the compact involves tribal issues it must be approved by the Department of Interior, as prescribed under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. DOI has until early July to sign off on the deal.

Gelber was particularly harsh in his criticism of DeSantis, while making a veiled reference to former President Donald Trump. Trump owns a hotel that is neither benefited nor harmed by the deal.

“Our Governor was not seeking to advance the goals of IGRA, rather he was most interested in advancing the interests of non-tribal political donors and his most important political patron,’’ Gelber wrote. 

What’s Next For Florida Sports Betting Compact

Bob Jarvis, who specializes in gambling law and is a professor at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, said the letter is nothing new and likely will have little impact on Haaland’s decision-making process. 

“DOI is not going to be swayed by anything he has to say,” Jarvis said.  He noted Gelber’s opposition to gambling is nothing new, calling the letter nothing more than “show-boating.”

Haaland is the first Native American to serve as DOI secretary. The general rule of thumb for all compact approvals is whether or not the tribe benefits and is supportive of the deal. In the case of the Florida compact, most experts have agreed the tribe is a big winner. That said, appeals are expected when and if DOI approves the measure. 

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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