DeSantis Signs Gaming Revenue Legislation


On April 4, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law that will invest hundreds of millions of dollars into environmental projects with revenue derived from gaming in the state.

DeSantis was joined at the South Florida Water Management District by board members and officials, Shawn Hamilton, Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary, Marcellus Osceola Jr., Seminole Tribe of Florida Chairman, legislators, and other environmental leaders.

Florida leaders are expecting to generate roughly $750 million from gaming revenue this year. The revenue is based on the 2021 Gaming Compact signed by the Tribe and DeSantis that survived legal challenges in recent years. The legislation – which is effective upon now becoming law – directs 96 percent of revenue derived from the 2021 Gaming Compact to be set aside for environmental projects. The Compact sets the terms by which the Tribe can offer gaming in Florida in exchange for dedicated revenue to the state.

“This is going to be important to reduce harmful nutrients in Florida’s waterways. It’ll be important to maintain Florida as the fishing and boating capital of the world,” the Governor said. “This is a good day – this is very productive I think what the legislature did.”

The bill – SB 1638 – was carried by Sen. Travis Hutson. The companion bill was carried by Rep. James Buchanan. DeSantis also on April 4 signed SB 7080, which establishes the gaming trust fund.

The Compact provides the Tribe with partial, but substantial exclusivity for specified gaming activities in Florida. There is a guaranteed minimum payment of $2.5 billion for the first five years and not less than $400 million annually. The agreement lasts 30 years.

Funding is dedicated as set forth in the law:

  • $100 million annually to support the Florida wildlife corridor
  • $100 million annually for management of uplands and removal of invasive species
  • $36 million to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) for state park land management activities and $4 million for the Local Trail Management Grant Program
  • $32 million to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for land management activities
  • $32 million to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for land management activities, specifically for gopher tortoises and Florida panthers
  • $100 million for flooding and sea level rise resilience
  • Any remaining funds will go to FDEP for water quality improvement grants

“Just hearing that commitment and understanding that focus and that leadership and what that means to not just to us, but to the generation to come, I don’t know how you can’t get teared up,” said Hamilton. “If you think about our environment, it underpins our tourism, it underpins who we are as a state. And, quite frankly, it is the foundation of who we are as a state.”

Osceola praised the funding that will be dedicated to the environment, particularly to the Everglades, where streams used to be clear to the eye, where people would swim and drink the clean water.

“With this, and the funding that we provided through the Compact, I hope that we can once do that again, for our children’s sake,” he said. “My grandfather was famous for saying that when you find something, take care of it and leave it in a better position than when you found it for the next generation. That’s what we hope to do.”


Florida's Environmental News

Subscribe today to receive our weekly newsletter, delivered to your inbox every Monday morning.