Sports Betting Roundup: DeSantis, Seminoles bring Florida to the front door

Jay Dieffenbach

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is nearing a gaming agreement with the Seminole Tribe of Florida that would clear the way for online sports betting.

Once a deal is struck, it would have to meet approval from the state Legislature, next week, and U.S. officials with regard to regulation.

Florida would become the largest state in the nation to currently have legalized sports betting.

Details of the Florida Sports Betting Proposal

  • The Seminole Tribe would be the exclusive operator of digital sportsbooks in Florida for the next 30 years.
  • The Tribe could build three more casinos on tribal property.
  • The Tribe would provide Florida annual payments of $500 million, minimum, but that could rise as profits expand.
  • Tribe owns and operates the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa and six other casinos in Florida. But it is not sharing any of its revenue with the state.

Anyone at least 21 years old who is in Florida would be able to place bets on mobile devices primarily through the Hard Rock Digital App.

Florida’s parimutuel industry would operate the mobile sports app under its brand in exchange for 60 percent of the proceeds. Those wagers, too, would be placed through the Tribe’s server.

State lawmakers will update the state’s gaming laws by considering legislation to establish a Gaming Control Commission.

“Now the question is, will we finish it up?” said Senate President Wilton Simpson, a major backer of the bill. “I believe we will get it done. But I’m not sure I would ever classify it as easy.”

In a Tampa Bay Times story, the question of whether it’s a good deal for Florida was brought up.

“I don’t know that this is the right compact. I think this was the easiest deal we could have gotten but it is not the best deal,” said Sen. Jeff Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican. “I think this is the Tribe’s dream deal. This is not Florida’s dream deal.”

Another benefit for the Tribe is that the sportsbook bets would be received and processed by servers at the tribal casinos.

American Gaming Association reports big-time gaming numbers

The AGA released some impressive sports betting numbers, with U.S. commercial gaming revenue topping $11 billion in the first quarter of this year.

That equaled the pre-pandemic numbers from the third quarter of 2019 as the best ever.

The AGA’s Commercial Gaming Revenue Tracker reported that revenue total marks an increase over both first quarters the past two years: 2019, by 4.1 percent, and 2020, a 17.7 percent increase.

Further, commercial gaming’s Q1 numbers are up 21.1 percent over the last quarter of 2020. March was the highest-grossing revenue month in history for U.S. commercial gaming.

“(This) report shows gaming’s comeback is ahead of schedule,” said AGA President and CEO Bill Miller. “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our industry has faced numerous challenges head-on while still reopening responsibly and providing a safe, exciting environment for customers.”

Sports betting revenue for Q1 2021 saw a quarterly U.S. record of $961 million, up 270 percent over the same period in 2020 and topping 2019’s full-year total of $909 million.

The launch of Michigan online casinos helped iGaming produce $784 million nationwide in Q1 2021, three times better than the first quarter of 2020.

“The gaming industry is generating these impressive results with one hand tied behind our back as capacity and amenity restrictions remain across the country,” Miller said. “This is a testament to gaming’s hard work to help ensure our team members’ safety and well-being, which enabled us to reopen safely. We applied those same standards to our customers, whose clear pent-up demand was met by our responsible industry.”

Penn National pushes forward with Barstool Sportsbook in Indiana

Penn National saw the success its Barstool Sportsbook product has had via launches in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Illinois, and now it is targeting a launch of the mobile app in Indiana.

The Indiana Gaming Commission granted permission to Penn National for online wagering in the region with a scheduled launch on Tuesday via iOS and android platforms.

According to a Zacks Equity Research story in Yahoo Finance, it probably will be an option for desktop users, too, pending regulatory approval.

Penn National plans to promote the Indiana launch with offerings including risk-free bets, parlay insurance and options on the upcoming NBA playoffs and a Hoosier State mainstay, the Indianapolis 500.

Jay Snowden, president and CEO of Penn National, said: “Our launch in Indiana is another important step in our Company’s evolution into the leading omnichannel gaming provider, and we are eager to leverage the building momentum for the Barstool Sportsbook app with the additional launches we have planned for 2021.”

Tennessee looking hard at introducing peer-to-peer betting

Sports betting in the state of Tennessee continues to set records since it launched last November.

Now, the Tennessee Education Lottery is considering a brand-new iteration of wagering — peer-to-peer betting with at least two different operators.

The peer “exchange” allows people in legal markets worldwide to create and accept bets that eliminate reliance on bookmakers’ odds and terms.

The Lottery confirmed that two companies familiar with this format – never before offered in the U.S. — could receive a sports betting license.

One, ZenSports, would offer traditional sports wagering while the peer-to-peer plan follows the regulatory process with a decision left up to the state’s Sports Wagering Advisory Council.

Peer-to-peer betting is legal according to the Sports Gaming Act, but there are no rules in place to regulate it. This process could take months to complete, but ZenSports could soon become the first option in the U.S.

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