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Get the latest coverage of the 2021 Florida legislative session in Tallahassee from our coverage partners and WUSF.

Gambling Opponents Launch Campaign Against Florida's Proposed Deal With Seminole Tribe

Virus Outbreak Vegas Casinos
John Locher/AP
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AP
Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe of Florida recently signed a gambling agreement to adds sports betting to the state's other gaming options.

State lawmakers would have to sign off on the agreement, which is known as a “compact.” A special session to consider the issue is scheduled for May 17.

An anti-gambling group is warning Floridians about a compact the state legislature will soon consider in a special session.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe of Florida recently signed a gambling agreement to adds sports betting to the state's other gaming options.

But the group, “No Casinos," says the pact would violate the state constitution.

The group has launched a statewide ad campaign to try and convince Florida lawmakers to not sign off on the agreement.

In the voice-over for the commercial, the group contends that “Florida's constitution says that any expansion of gambling must be approved by voters not politicians, not lobbyists, you. That's the law but gambling lobbyists want politicians to break it."

Floridians approved a constitutional amendment in 2018 requiring voter approval of any expansion of casino gambling in the state.

Some legal experts, however, say the Legislature does have the power to approve sports betting.

Under the agreement signed April 23 by DeSantis and Seminole Tribe of Florida Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr., the Seminoles would serve as a hub for online sports betting, with pari-mutuel operators contracting with the tribe. Pari-mutuels would get to keep 60% of sports-betting revenue, with 40% going to the Seminoles. The tribe would pay the state up to 14% on the net winnings.

The special session to consider the gambling issue will be held the week of May 17.

Under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, federal approval would also be needed to seal the deal.

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