Florida iGaming Expansion Could Come Down to Governor Race

florida seal

State Seal of Florida

The November 4th elections are going to decide the future of gambling in the Bay State, but Massachusetts isn’t the only state where gaming expansion will heavily depend on the outcome of the mid-term elections.

Florida is another state looking to expand land based gaming, and potentially join Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey as the fourth state to offer online gambling down the road. What happens on both fronts will likely depend on who wins the Governorship, particularly when it comes to online gambling.

Current Republican Governor Rick Scott is in a very tight race against former Republican Governor turned Democrat Charlie Crist, with virtually every recent poll showing the candidates deadlocked:

  • RealClearPolitics.com has the race virtually deadlocked, with Crist holding a .5% lead.
  • Like RCP, The Huffington Post has the candidates separated by less than a single point, again favoring Crist.
  • Rasmussen also has the race deadlocked, with both candidates garnering 47% of the vote in an October 20th poll.

If Scott loses to Crist, Florida could become one of the prospective frontrunners when it comes to online gambling expansion in the United States, and the Scott/Crist race is one of the closest in the country.

While Charlie Crist hasn’t exactly clarified where he stands on gaming expansion (and there is a lot of uncertainty over just what Crist will support), current Governor Rick Scott has come out in full support of Sheldon Adelson’s federal online gambling ban, making the choice in Florida’s Gubernatorial race a no-brainer for pro-gaming advocates.

Online gambling in the FL Legislature

With Scott in office there is little to no chance of an online gaming bill becoming law; which is something the Florida legislature seems interested in exploring.

This year the Senate introduced SB 98, a bill that would have authorized online lottery sales. SB 98 died in the Senate Committee on Gaming, potentially left to die due to Scott’s vocal opposition.

The legislature also commissioned a study by Spectrum Gaming Group on online gambling in 2013 that concluded Florida could make $800 million from online gambling within the first five years.

If nothing else, this shows a willingness in the Florida legislature to explore iGaming options, but these explorations become moot if an anti-online gaming governor is in office.

Any iGaming expansion talk in Florida will start with the election results on November 4th. Expansion won’t necessarily happen overnight, but a Scott victory means waiting at least four more years.

 

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