More Florida Casinos? A Look At Latest Gambling Bill And Its Chances

Written By Adam Hensley on December 27, 2023
Photo of buildings in Miami Beach, a potential location for new Florida casinos with proposed gambling bill from Blaise Ingoglia

Could more casinos pop up in Florida in the near future?

If this new bill passes all checks, it’s certainly a possibility.

SB 1054, put forth by Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, looks to make a change to the already existing compact in Florida, but it’s drawn plenty of criticism. The next Florida legislative session begins Jan. 9, 2024.

Here’s a closer look at the bill and its chances of actually passing.

What is this new casino bill in Florida?

Florida kicked off a “new era” of gambling earlier this month.

The Seminole gaming compact from 2021 once again returned, which allowed expanded casino gaming at the Seminole Tribe casinos across the state. That expansion came in the form of retail sports betting, craps, and roulette. Online sports betting returned as well.

But within that 2021 compact, there’s one specific thing to note about casino expansion.

The compact says that as part of the deal, the Seminole Tribe cannot object to any other casinos within the state, as long as they’re built 15 or more miles from Hollywood. The new bill, SB 1054, says that those with gaming permits should be able to transfer their licenses to new locations within a 30-mile radius.

Translation: Permit-holders would be able to build new casinos in locations closer to the heart of Miami-Dade County, such as Miami and Miami Beach, as long as they’re 15 miles from Hollywood, which is about 10 miles south of Fort Lauderdale.

Mixed reaction to more Florida casinos leaves questions

Former Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber made his opinion clear to CBS News Miami.

“I don’t think we need it,” he said.

According to him, Florida’s economy is just fine. He worries that added casinos would only crowd the market and not necessarily help in the long run.

“Our economy is thriving, people are coming here, and we have a wonderful hospitality industry,” he said. “All casinos do is cannibalize everybody else to usually just the benefit of a single person or business.”

It appears as though Florida’s industry is primed to boom, specifically with the addition of sports betting. Hard Rock CEO Jim Allen told CNBC that he believes the state could leapfrog some of the larger sports wagering markets, like New York.

Experts believe Florida sports betting could yield $8-12 billion in handle after the market matures, which could lead to as much as $1 billion in revenue for the Seminole Tribe and partners. Taxes would amount to close to $125 million annually.

Is there a chance this new bill passes?

There’s always a chance. But in terms of when everything would have the green light, who knows.

Bob Jarvis, a law professor at Nova Southeastern, told CBS News Miami he believes this bill doesn’t boast a strong footing.

“It’s particularly difficult for a gambling bill to get passed, and so this is more of a publicity stunt than anything else,” he said.

He’s got a point.

Florida’s gambling industry as it stands today took a long time from its inception. There have been a number of legal battles, which took years to fully play out.

This is essentially the first time we’ve seen Florida’s legal gambling industry with all its current options available to customers. Before making any drastic changes, officials certainly want to see how everything plays out — especially if there’s going to be any sort of a push toward online casinos in Florida. Don’t expect the state to start sprouting casinos now that the market expanded.

Technically, the Seminole Tribe can’t object to this new bill as part of the gaming compact. But it certainly won’t be happy, since it would love to keep control of the market. Considering Jarvis’ expertise and the tribe’s influence, don’t expect this bill to pass with flying colors or hit the ground running any time soon.

Photo by AP/Wilfredo Lee
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Adam Hensley

Adam Hensley is a journalist from Des Moines, Iowa, with experience covering online sports betting and gambling across Catena Media. His byline has appeared in the Associated Press, Sports Illustrated and sites within the USA Today Network. Hensley graduated from the University of Iowa in 2019 and spent his college career working for the Daily Iowan’s sports department, both as an editor and reporter.

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