Failed presidential candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) said he opposes Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R) effort to change the gambling landscape in Florida.
“At the time when our economy is poised for an unprecedented takeoff after taking a hit from the pandemic, now is not the time to expand casino gambling which will benefit a handful at the expense of many,” Bush explained, according to Florida Politics.
“South Florida is on a roll!” Bush said of DeSantis’s work. “Our great quality of life and an incredible surge of job creators to our region have put us on a path for rising income and prosperity for many more of our neighbors.”
According to the outlet, “Bush’s opposition isn’t a surprise. During his gubernatorial tenure, Bush also resisted calls to expand gambling in Florida. Donald Trump was a large figure behind that push in the late 90s. The two even tussled over the issue during the 2016 presidential election.”
The Florida legislature is currently considering the agreement DeSantis signed in April with the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which would legalize sports betting and purportedly raise $2.25 billion in new revenue over the next five years to the state.
But Disney, a major stakeholder in Florida, is reportedly not a supporter of expanding gambling in the state because it wants to maintain “a family-friendly image and reduce competition for tourism dollars,” according to the Sun-Sentinel.
A previous deal was designed by former Gov. Rick Scott (R), but he was unable to get the measure approved by the legislature.
State Rep. Chip LaMarca (R-Lighthouse Point), who then sponsored the legislation, says he is supporting DeSantis’s agreement. “It is something that Floridians are already doing either through other states or territories, and those dollars are leaving Florida,” he said, per the Sun-Sentinel.
State Rep. Anthony Sabatini (R-Howey-in-the-Hills) told Breitbart News he believes if the bill passes the legislature, it will be struck down in federal court due to permitting “gaming activity” that does not occur on tribal lands.
“Jeb! has no credibility to critique DeSantis’ aims to better Florida. But I am unsure if the legislation would withstand legal challenges,” Sabatini cautioned, citing gaming law and sports betting attorney Daniel Wallach.
Next week, Florida lawmakers will be asked to approve a gaming compact that flouts federal law by authorizing "gaming activity" that takes place entirely outside of tribal lands. In my latest @ForbesSports piece, I analyze the key legal issues under IGRA. https://t.co/lF6gCjKFdA
— Daniel Wallach (@WALLACHLEGAL) May 12, 2021
Politico reported Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls (R-Palm Harbor) is not whipping votes to pass the measure but is working on creating a commission to regulate the gambling industry.
If Florida lawmakers approve the proposal with the Seminole Tribe, the Sun-Sentinel detailed that the following would be permitted:
- Online sports betting would be permitted in the state’s pari-mutuel facilities, including poker cardrooms, horse racing tracks and jai-alai arenas
- Bets could be made on collegiate and professional sporting events, motorsports, and Olympic contests.
- Casinos could offer craps and roulette, including at the guitar-shaped Hard Rock Hotel in Hollywood
- The Seminole tribe could build three more gambling facilities on their Hollywood property