TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Florida House followed in the Senate’s footsteps on Wednesday and approved the implementation of a gaming compact that would expand gambling in the Sunshine State.
The 30-year gaming compact was approved by the Florida Senate on Tuesday in a 38-1 vote. Sen. Jeff Brandes, a Republican who serves part of Pinellas County, was the lone dissenting vote in the chamber.
The Florida House of Representatives followed suit on Wednesday and, as expected, also voted to approve the pact. The agreement drafted between the State of Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida passed in the House with a 97-17 vote.
“Today, all the people of Florida are winners, thanks to legislative approval of the Gaming Compact between the State of Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida,” Seminole Tribe of Florida Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr. said in a statement after the House vote. “It is a historic and mutually-beneficial partnership between the state and Seminole Tribe that will positively impact all Floridians for decades to come.”
The compact now needs to be approved on the federal level.
If it’s eventually signed into law, the pact would allow the Seminole Tribe to offer online sports betting, craps and roulette. The deal is expected to bring in an estimated $2.5 billion in revenue for the state during its first five years if it does pass.
“Good deal or bad deal, it is the deal we have on the table, and I can’t in good conscious turn down the money,” Sen. Anette Taddeo, D-Miami, said.
The question many are asking now: is it legal?
Amendment 3, signed in 2018, gives Sunshine State voters the “exclusive right to decide whether to authorize gambling in Florida.”
Sen. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, previously told 8 On Your Side, “we’ll probably be in court for this if it passes.”
But there are opponents to the bill as well. The action in the Florida legislature drew dozens of opponents to Tallahassee on Tuesday.
“It’s voters, not policy makers in Tallahassee that have the power to expand gambling in our state,” John Snowinski, the president of No Casino’s Incorporated said.