Florida sports betting cleared for Oct. 15 start

Federal government gives OK to pact with Seminole Tribe

Get ready to place your bets. It looks like sports gambling will become legal in Florida on Oct. 15.

The state’s gambling compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida has passed the 45-day approval period of the U.S. Department of the Interior, which oversees tribal gambling operations, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office announced Friday.

The deal will allow the Seminole Tribe to add roulette and craps to its seven Florida casinos, including the popular Hard Rock facilities in Hollywood and Tampa.

Barring further action in the courts, the tribe can also begin sports betting Oct. 15 and operate sports wagering at horse tracks, jai-alai frontons and former dog tracks for a share of the income. Online sports betting operated by the tribe would also be allowed.

The state says the compact will generate a minimum of $2.5 billion in new revenue to the state over the next five years and an estimated $6 billion through 2030.

The state is expected to receive an estimated $20 billion over the course of the 30-year deal.

“The final approval of this historic gaming compact is a big deal for the State of Florida,” DeSantis said in a statement. “This mutually beneficial agreement will grow our economy, expand tourism and recreation and provide billions in new revenue to benefit Floridians.”

In the same news release circulated by DeSantis’ staff, Marcellus Osceola Jr., chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, said: “Today is a great day for the people of Florida, who will benefit not only from a $2.5 billion revenue-sharing guarantee over five years, but also from statewide sports betting and new casino games that will roll out this fall and mean more jobs for Floridians and more money invested in this state.”

Opponents have said that the mobile sports betting component of the pact is unconstitutional, and some South Florida leaders — including Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber — have voiced concern about further gambling spread.

The compact was reached in April and approved by the Florida Legislature in a special session on May 19.

DeSantis quietly signed the new Florida gambling bills on May 25, pushing it forward for federal approval.