Florida legislator hopes for sports gambling with pre-filed bill
By Bob Garcia
Senator Jeff Brandes didn’t want to wait for the Sunshine State to start considering sports gambling
The Sunshine State offers a lot of different forms of gambling, but sports gambling has been a touchy subject. That could soon change, however, with everyone now willing to admit that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused serious financial issues that are becoming more difficult with each passing day. As Florida, like all states, begins to mull over ways to generate revenue, at least one lawmaker is hoping sports gambling will find enough support. Senator Jeff Brandes was so anxious to have the idea considered that he didn’t wait until the new session began to file a sports gambling bill. However, there’s still a lot of work to do, especially if the Seminole Tribe decides to intervene.
Brandes submitted Senate Bill 392 (SB 392) last week, ahead of the March start to the latest legislative session. The bill would designate the state lottery as the regulator of the new market, with revenue generated from the activity going to Florida’s public education fund. Any individual working for or with a sports team, including coaches, athletes, referees, or an athletic governing body would be prohibited from placing wagers, according to the legislation.
This isn’t the first time Brandes has tried to introduce sports gambling to Florida. He presented a similar bill last year, but it never found much support because it didn’t address the Seminole Tribe or its lock on Class III gaming. The new bill Brandes has submitted for the upcoming legislative session, according to a review of available documentation, also overlooks any participation by the tribe, which means it, too, will have a difficult time finding enough support. The Seminole Tribe has a virtual monopoly on any type of casino gambling in the state and, while sports gambling is not technically a “casino game,” the tribe is ready to fight any attempt to legalize sports gambling in Florida.