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Chairman Osceola, Gov. DeSantis sign gambling deal

Gov. Ron DeSantis, left, and Chairman Marcellus W. Osceola Jr. hold up the new gambling compact that they signed April 23, 2021. (Photo Gov. DeSantis Facebook)

The Seminole Tribe and Gov. Ron DeSantis reached a long-awaited agreement April 23 for a new gaming compact which would bring sports betting to the state.

In addition to offering craps and roulette at its casinos, the tribe will be able to conduct sports betting and license it to horse tracks, jai alai and dog tracks throughout the state. The tribe will receive a percentage of every sports bet placed.

If approved by Tribal Council, the Florida Legislature and the U.S. Department of the Interior, the state could receive at least $2.5 billion from the tribe over the first five years and about $6 billion by 2030. The Interior oversees Indian gaming through the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

“The Seminole Tribe of Florida is committed to a mutually-beneficial gaming compact with the State of Florida and looks forward to its approval by the Florida Legislature, the Seminole Tribal Council and the U.S. Department of the Interior,” said Chairman Marcellus W. Osceola Jr. “The tribe wants to express our sincere thanks to Governor DeSantis, Senate President (Wilton) Simpson, House Speaker (Chris) Sprowls and many others who have worked hard to negotiate a historic agreement that cements our partnership with the state for decades to come.”

The 30-year compact will be considered by the Legislature at a special session starting May 17.

“For years, there has been much ambiguity around the compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida,” Sprowls said. “Today, we thank Governor Ron DeSantis for bringing that to a conclusion and for giving us the opportunity to address this key issue for our state. Thank you also for the work of Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr. and the contributions of Senate President Simpson. We look forward to reviewing the compact in an upcoming Special Session.”

The 75-page compact is more extensive than any previous gaming compact in U.S. history and allows sports betting in Florida to go through the tribe, who will offer it to pari-mutuels.

“This historic compact expands economic opportunity, tourism, and recreation, and bolsters the fiscal success of our state in one fell swoop for the benefit of all Floridians and Seminoles alike,” DeSantis said. “Our agreement establishes the framework to generate billions in new revenue and untold waves of positive economic impact.”

The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association applauded the compact announcement.

“This is a huge win for all Floridians and for the tourism industry, which has been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Carol Dover, president and CEO of the association. “Not only will the agreement create jobs, but it will also bring more visitors to our great state. Florida’s hotels and restaurants are ready to welcome the many visitors our state will have due to this new compact.”

Click here to see the compact.

The signatures of Gov. Ron DeSantis and Chairman Marcellus W. Osceola Jr. are on the gaming compact signed April 23, 2021.
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Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at beverlybidney@semtribe.com.
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