Last Updated May 20, 2022, 17:52 PM

Weekly News - 05/18/2021

THIS WEEK IN LEGAL SPORTS BETTING — FLORIDA SPORTS BETTING TAKES THE STAGE!

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May 18th, 2021 Weekly Report

Spring is in full effect and it is time to see the latest legal sports betting news in the United States! Many states have been making pushes to legalize sports betting before their legislative sessions run out this year. So, we have been seeing a lot of motion when it comes to legislation being introduced and other votes of support for sports betting. Keep reading to see the latest sports betting news from this last week!

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CONTENTS

WHERE DOES FLORIDA SPORTS BETTING STAND?

The special legislative session in Florida has started this past week in the state. Legislators in the state will be meeting to talk about Florida’s gambling compact with the Seminole Tribe. These talks will include discussions about legal Florida sports betting.

The session will only last for a few days, ending this Wednesday. A gaming compact was struck in April between Florida state Governor Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe. So, the legislators will hold a vote where they will choose if they want to adopt that compact.

There will be support bills that need to be drafted in order to build the foundation for legal Florida sports betting. The compact as it currently stands is not ideal for sportsbook operators. So, the support bills are very important to getting support for Florida sports betting.

Via a partnership with the Hard Rock Gaming brand, the Seminole tribe will be in charge of Florida sports betting, as things currently stand. So, other brands would only be able to enter the Florida betting market if they partner with a Florida pari-mutuel horse racing operator. Or, they would also be able to strike a partnership deal with the Seminole Tribe.

The compact outlines that the tribe has to sign sub-licensing contracts. They would need to sign these sub-licensing contracts with at least three pari-mutuels. However, these contracts are pretty much tantamount to marketing deals.

This means that a pari-mutuel could still strike a partnership with an external brand and be able to use that brand as long as they used technology from Hard Rock. The revenue that would be earned from the skins would be split between the pari-mutuel (and any potential partner) and the tribe at a 60/40 rate.

These may be hard terms for some sportsbook operators to swallow. It gives Hard Rock a real edge in the state over other operators. However, they may risk missing out on the entire Florida sports betting market if they do not agree to these terms.

So, these legislative discussions are even more important when you look at that outside perspective. The terms can still change at this time. It is important to remember, that the gaming compact is not law in the state yet.

Lawsuits from anti-gambling groups threaten the potential passage of Florida sports betting with lawsuits if the gaming compact passes. These groups feel that voter approval is needed before the compact should become law.

The compact will also have to be reviewed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington DC. It will need to be compliant with federal law as well as the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Because mobile sports betting would be taking place outside of tribal land, it could mean the compact is not compliant with federal law.

This means that Florida mobile sports betting may be taken out of the compact to make the passage easier. The Seminole tribe would have exclusive rights to retail betting in partnership with the pari-mutuels.

Because there is more to the Florida betting legalization at stake than just sports betting, online sports betting could be left out of the bill. Other states with strong tribal presences, like California, are closely watching the Florida special session. It is expected to have strong consequences on a federal level.

TEXAS SPORTS BETTING TAKES A BLOW

This current legislative session in the state of Texas unfortunately has Texas sports betting looking quite dead for the year. However, those who are pro Texas sports betting still hope they can get an expansion referendum through next year. Texas state Representative Dan Huberty introduced a bill, HB 2070, this year to the Texas legislative session.

HB 2070 would have decriminalized and regulated Texas sports betting. There was also a joint resolution came from state Senator Carol Alvarado and state Representative John Kuempel to legalize Texas casino gaming as well as sports betting in the state.

But, considering there is less than a month left in the 2021 Texas legislative session, it appears Texas sports betting is not going to happen this year. HB 2070 has been confirmed to be stalled.

The Texas gaming expansion did not have the support it needed. And, prominent politicians such as Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick was vocal about his opposition to the expansion. However, all is not lost for Texas sports betting.

There is still the possibility to get a vote on HJR 133 during this legislative session. HJR 133 would put a possible gambling expansion on the ballot for Texas voters in 2022 via referendum. It is estimated that the state of Texas sees $5 billion annually in illegal offshore sports bets, so the legislation could pass for that reason.

Even if the referendum does get approval, a sports betting bill would still need to pass in order to legalize Texas sports betting. Even though it will not be legalized any time soon, proponents of sports betting in Texas are happy that the issue has seen progress this year. The Texas legislature will meet again in the year 2023, hopefully with sports betting on the docket once again.

HOW LIKELY IS NEBRASKA SPORTS BETTING?

An in-state college wagering ban has recently been added to a piece of legislation that seeks to legalize Nebraska sports betting. The one-chamber Nebraska legislature adopted this amendment that would not allow Nebraska sports betting on in-state collegiate teams. The amendment was added to LB 561.

LB 561 is an expansive piece of legislation that would change the landscape of Nebraska gaming. It would create six casinos at the state of Nebraska’s horse racing tracks. However, last month, a similar piece of legislation was rejected by lawmakers. LB 561 has been removed from a final vote twice already because of specific amendments.

With the Nebraska legislature finishing up on June 10th, many are hopeful Nebraska sports betting could still go through. LB 561 was able to move forward after its first reading in the session back in March, winning a vote 37 to 5. The first time it was removed for amendments, protections for Keno parlors in restaurants and bars were removed.

Last week, Nebraska legislators adopted the amendment to ban wagering on in-state Nebraska college teams. The piece of legislation needs two-thirds vote to pass and the amendment could help it move forward. This is because state senators are worried about the negative impact potentially betting on in-state collegiate teams could have in the state.

Many other states already ban the betting on in-state college teams. However, there are some who worry about losing money to neighboring states when it comes to Nebraska college sports betting. In-state bans could limit the sports betting market by up to approximately 15%.

Back in November 2020 at the ballot box in Nebraska, voters approved an expansion into casino-style gaming. This gaming would take place at Nebraska’s six commercial horse racing tracks. However, sports betting was not specifically outlined in that expansion.

Retail sports betting has been included by lawmakers under the umbrella of “games of chance.” Plus, casino revenue would be taxed at a rate of 20% in the state, as things stand. This would include retail Nebraska sports betting. Meaning, Nebraska mobile sports betting would also add to the expected tax revenue for the state.

Written by Allie Nelson, our US Sports Betting Industry Expert. You can learn more about our author's expertise.

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