A bipartisan set of bills by Rep. Chip LaMarca and Rep. Anika Omphroy is heading for the House during this year’s legislative session in the hopes of establishing a regulated sports betting industry in the state.
Bipartisan Set of Bills Heading for Legislative Session
Florida is at it again, as the Sunny State heads for another legislative push in a bid to secure legalized sports betting in the state. A hotly-debated topic, the would-be sports wagering industry is facing opposition on both political ends and not least from tribal operators.
A new set of proposals are heading to the House for the new legislative session in a bid to plug the budget deficit holes left by the COVID-19 pandemic using sports betting as a driver of revenue.
The bipartisan set of bills hopes to push against historically insurmountable opposition, the Native American tribes who have long objected to player-banked games in the state. Yet, Republican Rep. Chip LaMarca and Democratic Rep. Anika Omphroy think they have a fair game pushing separate drafts that could potentially see wagering brought online in Florida.
Their effort is well-coordinated as Omphroy will establish clear-cut tax structures and what available bets there would be with HB 1319. Meanwhile, LaMarca will push through HB 1317 and HB 1321 to explain the overall framework and establish a licensing agreement.
By breaking down the key components of sports betting legalization, the representatives hope to give lawmakers an easier way to familiarize themselves with the proposal and why it would be helpful. LaMarca did not hesitate to stress the importance of finding alternative revenue sources.
“As we grapple with a tough budget year and as many good programs are facing deep cuts, it’s time Florida gets innovative when it comes to keeping dollars in our state.”
He referred to the fact that even today, Florida’s residents are simply skipping the state line to gamble, or worse, they access illegal gambling websites located in overseas jurisdictions, remitting sizable amounts outside the state annually.
“Allowing online and retail sports betting to operate legally translates into millions in revenue. That’s money from Floridians that should be invested in Florida,” LaMarca added. He is not the only legislator looking to push sports betting in the state. Late in December, Sen. Jeff Brandes tabled his own bill.
Pushing for a Liberal and Inclusive Gambling Industry
The bills are not looking to cut anyone out of the bargain. On the contrary, the representatives hope to achieve a united front on legalization. Their proposals include tribal operators and professional sports venues, casinos, and pari-mutuel facilities, giving the state a good mix of options.
As one of the most populous states, it makes perfect sense to try and liberalize the gambling industry, be that sports betting or casinos, as much as possible.
The bills outline specific licensing conditions, such as the $7.5 million fee stakeholders would need to scoop up to obtain an entry into the state, along with $1 million per renewal. Yet, this is not just a matter of creating a legal gambling industry, says Omphroy.
According to him, Florida can boost tourism by developing a well-connected sports betting industry. The representatives are also counting on Gov. Ron DeSantis to endorse their push. As LaMarca pointed out, the governor had vowed to turn Florida into a sports and tourism destination.
To do so, visitors would need entertainment choices. Sports betting could be one of those.