DAILY FANTASY SPORTS BILL MAKING PROGRESS IN FLORIDA (Update)
Mainly land gambling bill contains DFS legality clauses.
Florida state Senator Bill Galvano and his colleagues sent a strong signal this week that they intend to advance a gambling expansion bill that includes daily fantasy sports elements among its mainly land gambling provisions.
Galvano is a sponsor of bill SB8, through which senators hope to raise additional state revenues of up to $525 million annually, and the signal was sent by the bill's rapid progress so early in the legislative season through the Senate Regulated Industries Committee without an amendment or debate, a sign that the Senate “is very serious” about advancing an issue that has stalled for years.
Florida faces a state budget deficit of almost $1 billion, and the pressure is on to find financial solutions without raising taxes.
“Sure it’s about online gaming, but it’s also about creating stability for a dubious marketplace,” Galvano told local reporters this week.
“It’s about establishing predictability for our state budget. It’s about protecting programs that exist in our state and creating funding opportunities.”
Galvano stressed that the bill builds upon work done by previous legislators and ratifies most of the 2015 gaming accord reached between the Seminole tribe and Gov. Rick Scott that allowed the tribe to convert all seven of its casinos to full casinos with blackjack, roulette and craps in exchange for $325 million in revenue sharing each year.
Among the changes to the 2015 deal, the proposal also:
▪ Regulates fantasy sports under a new Office of Amusements within the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, including issuing licenses of up to $500,000 to operate fantasy sports contests in Florida;
▪ Allows one additional slots license in Broward and Miami-Dade counties and allows all Broward and Miami-Dade casinos to have 25 blackjack tables;
▪ Allows slot machines in Brevard, Duval, Gadsden, Hamilton, Lee, Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Washington counties where voters have approved proposals to convert dog tracks, horse tracks and frontons to slots casinos; allows other counties to approve slot machine licenses after Jan. 1, 2018;
▪ Allows dog and horse tracks and jai-alai frontons to end live racing and games, known as “decoupling,” but limits the window when horse tracks can decide to end racing;
▪ Reduces pari-mutuel taxes, particularly for dog racing, and requires higher injury reporting for greyhound racing;
▪ Reduces the tax rate on slot machines from 35 percent to 25 percent;
▪ Attempts to boost horse racing by supplementing the purse pool for live races up to $20 million;
▪ Revokes dormant pari-mutuel permits and prohibits the state from allowing any new permits except those authorized in the bill;
▪ Allows the division to use $20 million to buy back active racing permits;
▪ Allows all pari-mutuel card rooms to offer player-banked card games, ending the uncertainty of the pending litigation.