Rep. Randy Fine holds one person responsible for a federal judge tossing Florida’s gaming compact: President Joe Biden.
“I don’t know if Joe Biden is just stupid or incompetent, but he owes the state of Florida $500 million a year,” Fine said.
The Brevard Republican, who chaired the House Select Committee on Gaming and is a former casino executive, warned during a Special Session that allowing online sports betting in the Compact was a legally dicey move. “Me personally, I don’t think it’s going to survive,” he said during a Special Session to approve the Compact.
And in fact, that’s the component that led U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrrich to throw out the entire Compact on Monday. A case was brought against the Compact by West Flagler Associates and Bonita-Fort Myers Corporation in August, with sports betting at the core of objections.
The Interior Department in August approved the Compact, which appeared to be the broadest gambling expansion in Florida in decades. Fine said it’s the federal administration’s fault counsel never argued in a Washington court. The rest of the Compact could stand if the sports betting component could be removed, he argued.
“That would mean it loses $50 million a year instead of $500 million,” Fine said.
Fine said he argued that could be done when the Legislature approved the deal. The agreement was negotiated between Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
So should that mean the provisions never belonged in the Compact in the first place?
Fine said that’s impossible to consider.
“I don’t know that the Seminoles would have signed the Compact without that,” Fine said. “Now you are talking hypotheticals.”
But he said it was a reasonable thing to argue in court — that the rest of the deal made sense, even if being allowed to place bets “from your bathtub” does not.
He wondered aloud if the failure to make the argument was intentional.
“I don’t know if this was another opportunity for Brandon to hurt Florida economically,” he said, using a term from “Let’s Go Brandon,” a derisive chant conservative activists have used to show disdain for Biden.