Florida legislators file sports betting bills

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Bills aim to make state ‘major player’ in wagering industry, fill budget shortfalls.

Two Florida Representatives have filed a total of three bills to create a framework to legalize, license and tax sports wagering.

Republican Chip LaMarca and Democrat Anika Omphroy (pictured) said bi-partisan cooperation was necessary to bring legal sports betting to Florida, which is facing budget gaps thanks to pandemic shutdowns.

LaMarca filed HB1317 and HB1321. The former authorizes wagers on sports events and spells out the duties of the Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering, among other provisions. The latter provides application, issuance and renewal fees for licenses relating to sports wagering.

Omphroy filed HB1319, which provides the tax rate for revenue received from sports wagering, specifies requirements relating to payment of taxes and provides administrative penalties.

The three bills are linked to each other in the state legislature.

 “As we grapple with a tough budget year and as many good programs are facing deep cuts, it is time Florida gets innovative when it comes to keeping dollars in our state,” LaMarca said in a statement.

LaMarca noted residents of the Sunshine State are sending millions of dollars out of the state every year, mostly to foreign countries, because, as he says, Florida has failed to bring in legal sports wagering.

“We have an opportunity to keep that money here in Florida,” he said. “Allowing online and retail sports betting to operate legally translates into millions in revenue. That is money from Floridians that should be invested in Florida.”

LaMarca also said he looks 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.

Omphroy released a statement saying it’s a privilege to file one of the three required pieces of legislation to bring legal sports wagering to Florida with Representative LaMarca.

“This bi-partisan bill is exactly what Florida needs coming out of this economic crisis and pandemic,” she said. “We need to boost our tourism and fill budget gaps for programs such as education and workforce training. Sports wagering can provide the funds that we are currently leaving on the table.”

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