Categories: Gambling Laws

Florida Legislators Will Examine Sports Betting This Session

Florida, along with two dozen other states, has begun the process of examining whether or not to legalize sports betting. Lawmakers are using this current legislative session to thoroughly look at all of the pros and cons of sports betting within their state. There’s a lot of factors working against sports betting in Florida, but one state leader has made it his mission to win this battle. Senate President Bill Galvano is a staunch supporter of gambling and sports betting. He’s been pushing for a sports betting bill for some time now.

Galvano’s Thoughts on Sports Betting

Galvano (R-Bradenton) has publicly stated that sports gambling is one of his top priorities. He believes that since this activity is already taking place, illegally in most states, then Florida should regulate it and benefit from the revenue dollars coming in.

Galvano is currently looking into the sports betting landscape around the country, and investigating different issues like whether bettors would have to place wagers in person or if online betting would be a possibility for Florida. Yet, another decision would be whether to allow fans to place bets at a sports arena while pro sports games are being played, called “prop” bets.

Proposition bets allow bettors to place wagers on a sporting event that doesn’t directly have to do with the game’s outcome. Galvano has heard from other leaders and industry experts how prop betting is a very profitable option in sports betting. Golf is an example of how prop betting has made the sport a popular betting option for sports bettors.

Collegiate sports is another issue that will require a decision. Some states have banned betting on college teams that are located within their respective borders. Florida’s Legislature will have to decide if they want to take the same approach.

Opposition to Sports Betting

Not everyone in Florida supports the idea of legal sports betting, which means that despite having the Senate President backing a potential gambling bill, it’s not a sure thing to get passed before the session ends on May 3rd.

Potential opposition isn’t the only thing holding back legal sports betting in Florida; the constitutional amendment that was approved in November 2018 gives voters the “exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling” in Florida. This would mean at least 60 percent of voters would have to approve of any future expansion of gambling in the state. Until now, this has been left up to the Legislature to decide.

The constitutional amendment was backed and bankrolled by Disney Worldwide Services Inc. and the Seminoles, which owns seven out of the eight tribal casinos in Florida.

Galvano doesn’t think that should stop him, saying that he thinks it won’t require a constitutional amendment to make sports betting legal. Not everyone agrees, though. John Sowinski the campaign manager of the committee that backed the constitutional amendment made the following comments:

The Legislature not only doesn’t have the authority to approve sports betting; it does not even have the authority to propose sports betting to the voters.

The Associated Press’s Study

The Associated Press carried out a review of sports gambling legislation in the 50 states. The report states that Florida, Texas, and California are unlikely to legalize sports gambling anytime soon. The reasons vary, according to the AP.

In Florida and California tribal interests that manage most casino gambling are hesitant to re-open their compacts with the state and potentially lose some of their gambling market to other players like race tracks and card rooms. Yet another reason is that the size of the state has a lot to do with legalization.

According to Chris Grove, the managing director of gambling research firm Eilers and Krejcik, there are factors working against large states like Florida:

The dynamic at work here is the larger the state, the larger the market, the larger the opportunity – the more complex the stakeholder environment and the more political stasis sets in.

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Rick Rockwell

As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site.

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