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Florida senator pushes to legalize sports betting in 2021

Published: Dec. 30, 2020 at 6:01 PM CST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - As many Americans prepare to finish out their fantasy football seasons this week, a state senator is hoping next year you may be able to legally play for money.

According to LegalSportsReport.com, legal sports wagering in 19 states and the District of Columbia has generated $340 million in tax revenue over the past two and a half years.

State Senator Jeff Brandes wants Florida to get in on the action. His proposal would put the Florida Department of the Lottery in charge of regulating sports betting.

“This would allow a much more legitimate way to play,” Senator Jeff Brandes said.

Winnings would be taxed at 15 percent. As with the lottery, revenues generated would go towards education.

FSU Sport Management Professor Dr. Jason Pappas says it could also help boost revenues for college teams, which have been hit hard by the pandemic.

“This would be another huge revenue stream that would offset some of those costs, and I truly believe over the long term would actually increase probably bigger than any other revenue source that’s out there when it comes to sport,” Pappas said .

Brandes hopes his bill can stand on its own.

“Doing it through the lottery, we’re not giving anybody anymore leverage against us in terms of withholding funds if somebody technically breaks the compact,” Brandes said.

This is the second year in a row the bill has been filed.

Last year it wasn’t heard by any committees, but there is new leadership this year deciding which bills are taken up.

The bill would permit betting on both collegiate and professional sports. Athletes, coaches, referees and management would be banned from betting.

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