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‘The state gave away a monopoly:’ Is Seminole compact a good deal for taxpayers?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Legal online sports betting in Florida isn’t going anywhere anytime soon thanks to a recent decision by the Florida Supreme Court.

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That means the state can expect a steady influx of cash from the Seminole Tribe going forward, but some gaming experts argue the state could have gotten more out of the deal.

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Annual revenues are expected to come in around $500 million as part of Florida’s gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe, which is now in full force thanks to recent court rulings.

The deal was originally struck back in 2021 under Governor Ron DeSantis and State Representative Randy Fine carried the deal through the legislature.

Related Story: Craps, roulette and sports betting coming to Seminole casinos following years of litigation

“So, this means we’ll even run a bigger budget surplus, which isn’t a bad thing to do, or we’ll be able to cut taxes in ways we didn’t expect, or we’ll be able to spend money on things we weren’t planning to, but all three of these are positive. There’s no downside to this,” Fine said in an interview with Action News Jax in early November.

But gaming attorney Daniel Wallach argued there is a downside for the taxpayers.

“What’s uncharacteristic about this arrangement is that it creates a monopoly and keeps the monopoly in place for 30 years,” Wallach said.

Related Story: Florida sports betting fight heading to U.S. Supreme Court

While the $20 billion the state will receive over those three decades may sound like a lot of money, Wallach noted Florida is the only state of its size to grant a monopoly over sports betting.

Even compared to the smaller states that have offered monopolies, Florida is getting a fraction of the profit sharing.

“The states are receiving a revenue of 51 percent of the operator’s gross gaming revenues. Florida, the state gave away a monopoly and is only getting back a revenue share of 15.75 percent potentially,” Wallach said.

Wallach added with deductions included in the compact, state revenue share could be less than 10 percent when all is said and done.

Related Story: Seminole Tribe leaders to begin sports betting at casinos starting in December

“Florida is going to be the king of sports betting, one company controls it, and the state is only getting a very small revenue share relative to what other states are getting from licensees,” Wallach said.can you gamble in

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And all is not fully resolved in the courts. The Florida and US Supreme Courts could still block the compact sometime in the future, but Wallach predicts any such ruling would likely be at least six months to a year away.

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