Last week, state Rep. Chip LaMarca, R-Lighthouse Point, brought out bills to pave the way for legalized domestic sports wagering in Florida.
LaMarca insisted expanding sports wagering would help Florida garner revenue during the current pandemic.
“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. This is why I will be filing legislation today to legalize domestic sports wagering here in Florida. Right now, Floridians are sending millions of dollars out of the state every year, mostly overseas to foreign countries, because Florida has failed to bring legal sports wagering to our state. We have an opportunity to keep that money here in Florida. 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 said.
“Governor DeSantis has made it a priority to make Florida the destination for sports and tourism capital of America. We have hosted two super bowls, a college football playoff national championship, and countless other major sporting events all within the last twelve months. Floridians and visitors alike demand entertainment choices. I look forward to working with all interested parties in the Legislature on a bill that makes Florida a major player in the online and retail sports wagering industry to help fill budget shortfalls. Bottom line? Safe and regulated domestic sports wagering is an industry Florida deserves,” he added.
Rep. Anika Omphroy, D-Lauderdale Lakes, is backing LaMarca’s proposals.
“It is a privilege to file one of the three required pieces of legislation to bring legal sports wagering to Florida with Rep. LaMarca,” she said. “This bipartisan bill is exactly what Florida needs coming out of this economic crisis and pandemic. We need to boost our tourism and fill budget gaps for things like education and workforce training. Sports wagering can provide the funds that we are currently leaving on the table.”
LaMarca’s proposal will include three bills: one to implement the policy, one to implement the new license, and one to implement the new tax structure.
Highlights of those bills include:
- One may apply for a sports wagering license through DBPR Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering if they are a:
- Tribal property
- Pari-mutuel facility
- Professional sports venue
- Each licensee through DBPR Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering may operate a retail location and have an individually branded accompanying website and app for online sports wagering
- Retail may include sports wagering kiosks and/or lounges
- License fees of $7.5 million in the first year and annually renewed for $1 million
- Tax rate in line with other states at 22.5 percent of the handle earnings by the licensee, not the consumer
- Online sports wagers must be made within the geographical boundary of the state
- Protections and safeguards from abuse and coercion of athletes and decision makers