Florida’s Path To Legalized Sports Betting Is Complicated

There are times that it seems that nothing comes easy in the state of Florida and once again we see there could be a problem. As states around the country are looking at ways to cash in on the chance at legalizing sports betting the Sunshine State is in an odd place at least for the moment.

Let’s begin with if they want to get something done before the state of the college and National Football League season they will have to call for a special session of the Florida legislature to address the issue.

They are way behind other states like California, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and New York who anticipated the Supreme Court decision to open up the country to legalized gambling on sports.

Then there is an upcoming in November on the ballot is Amendment 3 and could slow things down even more. The amendment puts the future gambling expansions of the people of the state. If it passes it would allow voters to decide if they want to control decisions about gambling, something now largely left up to the Legislature.

In an extensive interview Monday with The News Service of Florida, State Sen. Bill Galvano, a Republican from Bradenton one of the lead negotiators on the gambling issues for several years, was clear that Florida had a way’s to go before they consider giving the green light to sports betting.

“I believe it will create more interest in pursuing some types of sports betting, on behalf of the pari-mutuels as well as the (Seminole) tribe and some independent entities. But all of that is overshadowed by the pending constitutional amendment, which may create tremendous obstacles for any type of sports betting to come into the state.”

According to WJAX TV – Jacksonville -Galvano and his House counterpart, Miami Lakes Republican Jose Oliva, last month raised the possibility of a special session to address perpetually elusive gambling issues but abandoned the notion after Gov. Rick Scott secured a yearlong gambling deal with the Seminole Tribe. The agreement is focused on the tribe’s promise to continue making payments to the state in exchange for “exclusivity” over “banked” card games, such as blackjack.

A special session in reaction to Monday’s court decision is “very unlikely,” Galvano said. So at this point in time Florida is unlikely to make things happen quickly, But they are not out of the game entirely, however it does look like 2019 is a good bet for a starting date for sports gaming.



Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.