DeSantis signs bill channeling gaming compact funds to environment

by | Apr 4, 2024

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 1638, directing $536 million from the Seminole Gaming Compact revenues towards environmental conservation in Florida, including land acquisition, combating invasive species, and improving water quality.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 1638 on Thursday, leveraging funds the Seminole Gaming Compact for environmental conservation.

The bill allocates $536 million for the next fiscal year to acquire land for conservation, combat invasive species, and transition from septic to sewer systems. The legislation further stipulates that 96 percent of the compact’s revenue, estimated at approximately $750 million annually, will go towards environmental initiatives. This includes $100 million for land acquisitions within the Florida Wildlife Corridor, $100 million for the management of uplands and the removal of invasive species, and $100 million for the Resilient Florida Grant Program, aimed at protecting inland and coastal communities from storm damage and flooding. An additional $79 million is designated for the Water Quality Improvement Grant Program.

“Among Florida’s greatest assets are its natural resources,”said DeSantis. “This revenue stream will further enhance our efforts to conserve our natural resources, protect our waterways, and make our ecological infrastructure more resilient.”

This initiative is expected to bolster Florida’s economy and environmental efforts, supplementing revenues from documentary-stamp taxes dedicated to conservation projects since a 2014 constitutional amendment. Funded by the 2021 gambling agreement, which allows statewide online sports betting and casino expansions, the Seminole Tribe has pledged $2.5 billion over five years, with the potential for more through the 30-year duration of the compact.

Seminole Tribe Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr. supported the bill, highlighting the collaborative nature of the state and tribe’s conservation work. “This is our home,” he remarked, stressing the shared responsibility in safeguarding Florida’s environment. “The Tribe and the State will always be a great partner going forward to protect all of the natural resources.”

The compact grants the Seminole Tribe exclusive rights to sports betting throughout Florida through a “hub-and-spoke” system that allows the Seminole tribe to accept sports bets from mobile devices across the state, processing them through servers situated on tribal lands. In December, the Tribe announced its plans to resume payments to Florida.


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