Special session held in Tallahassee to review Seminole Tribe gambling deal

Published: May 17, 2021 6:00 PM EDT
Updated: May 17, 2021 9:13 PM EDT

A special session about bringing sports betting to Florida is being held by Florida lawmakers in Tallahassee. It kicked off Monday, and now, people opposed to sports betting are preparing for a fight. We looked at both sides of the debate.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a multi-billion-dollar gambling deal with the Seminole Tribe of Florida in April.

Betting could be as easy as a few clicks on your iPhone.

In 2018, Florida voters overwhelmingly passed an amendment that says Floridians must approve the expansion of gambling in the state.

That didn’t happen, but the governor says the amendment doesn’t apply in this case because the servers for the gaming apps will be on tribal property and managed by the tribe.

“If a file server is on tribal land, but the person placing the bet is not on tribal land, that is not a bet that took place on tribal land,” said John Sowinski, the president and CEO of No Casinos.

No Casinos wrote the 2018 amendment and says the current measure is more than illegal.

“One dollar spent on gambling is one dollar not spent somewhere else in the economy, usually a restaurant, a bar, a movie theater, some other form of entertainment that already exists,” Sowinski said.

Gary Bitner, a spokesperson for the Seminole Tribe, told us the tribe, “Always respects the opinions of others, but strongly believes the new gaming compact is legal and constitutional.”

The special session on this is scheduled for a week.

The U.S. Department of Interior, which oversees gambling, must approve any changes.

Bitner told us the tribe consulted with the department before signing the deal.