Jackpot! Seminole Tribe of Florida, state reach 30-year-gaming deal

Hollywood reservation will be able to expand facilities, also will have exclusivity on craps and roulette

It has not been legal in the state of Florida to bet on professional sports and if a gambling compact is ratified, you could do it right here in South Florida.

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – It hasn’t been legal in the state of Florida to bet on professional sports, but all that could soon change if a new 30-year gaming company is ratified. And, if it does go through, South Floridians could bet on their favorite sports teams right at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

Local 10 News got wind of negotiations in the works between the state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe, reporting on Thursday that something was brewing, but no one would confirm how close they were to a deal.

Now that “something” has come to light in a memorandum dated Friday from President of The Florida Senate Wilton Simpson who announced that a new 30-year gaming compact has been executed.

Details of the 2021 Compact include a new 30-year-term with the Seminole Tribe of Florida, additional facilities on the tribe’s Hollywood, Fla., reservation, enhanced revenue sharing brackets and statewide online sports betting in partnership with pari-mutuels. They will also have the exclusive on offering craps and roulette gaming. For that, the Tribe would pay Florida $500 million a year.

Local 10′s Glenna Milberg broke it down Thursday, but the Governor’s office was mum when asked and the Seminole Tribe would only confirm Thursday that “negotiations were continuing.”

But now with the execution announced, here’s what’s ahead.

Under the new deal, South Florida’s pari-mutuels and tracks could also offer sports betting but they would have to go through the Seminole tribe and pay a cut. Those businesses could also keep their poker and card games without objection from the tribe.

According to the memorandum, the 2021 compact creates a $2.5 billion revenue-sharing guarantee in the first five years, with $6 billion in new revenues for Florida through 2030.

“By comprehensively addressing issues raised for almost a decade, the 2021 Compact will maximize revenues for the state and provide new opportunities for both the Tribe and Florida’s pari-mutuel businesses by updating Florida law to better reflect the current gaming climate,” Simpson’s memo said.

DeSantis tweeted pictures of himself with Seminole Tribe members on Friday at the signing.

Simpson’s memo said that negotiations were underway for months and that the new Compact restores the relationship with the Tribe, most likely referring to the Tribe being rubbed the wrong way by the state with what it perceived as competition from Florida’s pari-mutuels, who now offer poker and designated player gaming.

The new 30-year-deal still needs to be ratified by the state legislature.

Wilson said he has asked to convene a special session for the week of May 17, 2021 since there is only a week left in the regular session to address the gaming compact.

The Department of Interior will also have to give the OK since that is who oversees Indian gaming in the United States. They would have 45-days to approve the compact. If everything falls into place, there could be new games at the Hollywood Hard Rock by Fall of 2021.

About the Authors:

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local 10.com. She has a bachelor's degree from Emerson College, Boston, and a master's degree from SUNY-Empire State.

Janine Stanwood joined Local 10 News in February 2004 as an assignment editor. She is now a general assignment reporter. Before moving to South Florida from her Washington home, Janine was the senior legislative correspondent for a United States senator on Capitol Hill.