Florida sports betting 2020
Legal Developments

Is Retail And Online Sports Betting Coming To Florida In 2020?

The Florida Senate put sports betting on the 2020 calendar after it referred a sports betting bill (SB 968) introduced by Senator Jeff Brandes to a trio of committees on Friday.

The three Florida Senate committees that will weigh in on sports betting in the new year are:

  • Innovation, Industry, and Technology;
  • Appropriations; and
  • Rules.

Florida and its population of 21 million would be a major domino for sports betting in the US. The state made the Betting USA short-list of key states to watch in 2020 for a good reason. However, expanding gambling in the state is not without its challenges.

As we noted in our previous writeup on Florida, “A referendum passed in 2018 (backed by the Seminole Tribe and Disney) gave the voters, and only the voters, the power to expand gambling in Florida.”

The new law reads:

“This amendment ensures that Florida voters shall have the exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling by requiring that in order for casino gambling to be authorized under Florida law, it must be approved by Florida voters pursuant to Article XI, Section 3 of the Florida Constitution. Affects articles X and XI. Defines casino gambling and clarifies that this amendment does not conflict with federal law regarding state/tribal compacts.”

That said, there is some disagreement when it comes to whether sports betting constitutes an expansion of gambling and therefore, if Florida needs to pass a constitutional amendment to legalize sports betting.

Even if it’s passed, the bill won’t go into effect until October 2020.

What Would Sports Betting Look Like Under SB 968?

SB 968 is an interesting bill that would create a state-run sports betting program (through the Florida Lottery) and a separate commercial online sports betting industry.

The bill would give the lottery exclusive rights to retail sports betting in the state. Private operators can apply for an online sports betting license (at the cost of $100,000 annually). The lottery’s retail betting program and the commercial online operators would both be subject to a 15% tax on net revenue.

Bettors would need to be at least 21 years old and located within the state of Florida if they’re placing online wagers.

The bill doesn’t appear to limit the number of online skins a licensee can launch.

No Ban on In-State Wagering

Wagering on in-state colleges and universities is not prohibited. Only wagering on high school and youth sports is prohibited under the bill’s language:

“Sports Event” means any professional sport or athletic event, any Olympic or international sports competition event, and any collegiate sports or athletic event, or any portion thereof, including, but not limited to, the individual performance statistics of athletes in a sports event or combination of sports events. The term does not include any high school or youth sports event.

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