Florida Lawmakers Have Six Different Sports Betting Bills To Consider

Written By JR Duren on March 4, 2021 - Last Updated on March 29, 2021

Heading into December, there were no sports betting bills in Florida. Yesterday, when the state’s legislative session kicked off in Tallahassee, there were six.

The surge to a six-pack came thanks to Reps. Chip LaMarca and Anika Omphroy. LaMarca proposed a pair of bills that would set up policy and licensing requirements for sports betting. Omphroy’s bill deals with tax structures.

Sports wagering is not legal in the state. The closest legal betting options are Mississippi (retail) and Tennessee (online).

LaMarca’s bill features $7.5M licensing fee for operators

LaMarca said that the goal of his and Omphroy’s bills is “to give Floridians access to safe and regulated domestic sports wagering.”

His use of “domestic” may indicate that LaMarca is hoping that, through legalization, Florida can bring to an end offshore betting in the Sunshine State.

The representative’s pair of bills provides a backbone for the regulatory side of wagering.


This bill focuses on the general mechanics of what would happen on the regulatory side of Florida sports betting. A few of the regulations the bill introduces are:

  • Authorization of sports betting
  • Duties of the Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering
  • Outlaws sports pools for anyone but licensed entities
  • Background checks for sports betting employees
  • Banning certain bettors from making or accepting bets

HB 1321

This second LaMarca bill deals exclusively with the application and renewal fees for sports betting licenses.

LaMarca proposed the following:

  • $7.5 million one-time application fee
  • $1 million annual renewal fee
The proposed $7.5 million fee is lower than Pennsylvania’s $10 million fee but higher than many other states. Indiana, West Virginia, and New Jersey, for example, charge $100,000.

Omphroy proposes 22.5% sports betting tax rate

Whereas LaMarca’s bills focus on licensing and regulations, Omphroy’s bill dives into taxation. Because gambling taxes, in general, are a significant source of income for states, how lawmakers decide to tax sports betting could be a key selling point for Omphroy’s begrudging colleagues.
The bill calls for a 22.5% tax on revenue minus anything the casino pays out in winnings.
Like the licensing fee, the proposed tax rate on revenue is high. Of the 21 states with sports betting, only four have higher tax rates:
  • Rhode Island (51%),
  • New Hampshire (50%-51%)
  • Delaware (50%)
  • Pennsylvania (34%)

New bills will cost casinos, operators more than Brandes’ bills

At the end of 2020, Sen. Jeff Brandes filed his own trio of bills that addresses many of the same issues that LaMarca and Omphroy’s bills do.
In short, Brandes’ legislation calls for cheaper licensing fees, $100,000 instead of $7.5 million, and a 15% tax rate instead of 22.5%.
Based on history, the odds are low that any sports betting bills will pass this year. However, if lawmakers’ decisions are driven by the wounds of the recession, LaMarca and Omphroy’s bill may be the more appealing choice.
It’s hard to say how much revenue Florida could bring in each year. However, considering the state’s population and its multitude of professional sports teams, it’s not a stretch to imagine the state bringing in at least $200 million.
Based on that projection, Omphoy’s tax rate would bring the state $45 million per year.
Photo by Pamela Hodson | Dreamstime.com
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JR Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the gambling beats for more than a dozen states for Catena Media since 2015. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun, and he is a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

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