Florida Sports Betting: Glimpse into the Future of Legalization



Florida Legal Sports Betting Overview

Florida’s legal sports betting market was short-lived after a federal lawsuit stopped Hard Rock Sportsbook from operating in the Sunshine State on December 4, 2021. The Seminole Tribe of Florida had initially agreed to a gaming compact with the state, granting them exclusive rights to sports betting in FL. This compact was signed by Governor Ron DeSantis and approved by state legislators in May 2021. Online sports betting officially launched on November 1, 2021, with the Seminole-owned Hard Rock Sportsbook. However, shortly after its launch, a federal-level lawsuit challenged the compact, resulting in the suspension of Hard Rock Sportsbook’s operations and the postponement of retail sports betting in the Seminole casinos.

Florida Online Sportsbooks Summary

Currently, online sportsbooks are not available to bettors in Florida due to the ongoing federal lawsuit. The Seminole Tribe’s Hard Rock Sportsbook app launched on November 1, 2021, but was declared invalid by a federal judge three weeks later. As a result, Hard Rock Sportsbook ceased operations on December 4, 2021. The lawsuit revolves around the question of whether the Seminole Tribe can offer state-wide sports betting as stated in the compact. The compact specifies that all bets must be made on Seminole land, and the Tribe argues that since the servers facilitating sports betting are located on Seminole land, all bets are considered made there. Similar reasoning was accepted in the case of sports betting in New Jersey. However, the future of sports betting in Florida will ultimately be determined by the US District Court. Estimated timelines suggest that a resolution may not be reached until August 2023. In the meantime, Florida residents can still engage in online wagering on horse racing through platforms like BetAmerica, Caesars, TVG, and TwinSpires. Additionally, various daily fantasy sports (DFS) platforms like ESPN, Boom, FantasyDraft, DraftKings, and FanDuel remain accessible to sports enthusiasts in Florida. It is worth noting that none of the neighboring states to Florida offer legal online sports betting.

FL Sports Betting Law Details

Retail Sports Betting Launch Date N/A
Online Sports Betting Launch Date November 1, 2021 (suspended December 4, 2021)
Licensed Sportsbooks Hard Rock Sportsbook (until December 4, 2021)
Legal Wagering Options N/A
Legal Gambling Age in FL 21+
Sports to Bet On N/A
Permitted Banking Options N/A
Florida Gambling Regulator Florida Gaming Control Commission

Florida Sports Betting Market Details

Florida, with its population of over 20 million people and a total of nine professional sports teams, has the potential to become a significant sports betting market once the legal hurdles are resolved. The state’s gaming compact, if upheld, would grant the Seminole Tribe exclusive rights to sports betting in Florida. This exclusivity would provide the Tribe with a competitive advantage and attract major sportsbooks like BetMGM, Caesars, DraftKings, and FanDuel to enter partnerships with the Seminole Tribe. The sports betting options in Florida are expected to cover a wide range of markets, including popular sports leagues such as the NFL and NBA, as well as niche sports like MMA and Aussie Rules. Hard Rock Sportsbook, owned by the Seminole Tribe, is anticipated to offer competitive odds and prices, similar to their operations in states like Arizona, Iowa, New Jersey, and Virginia. With a gambling revenue tax rate of 13.75%, 10.75% of which is payable to the State of Florida, the legalization of sports betting could contribute significantly to the state’s tax revenue. Comparatively, New Jersey, which has a similar tax rate, generated over $100 million in state tax from sports betting in 2021, with a population of less than half that of Florida. The potential for tax revenue generation combined with the size and avid sports culture of the state makes Florida an attractive market for sportsbooks.

How Does Florida Compare to Other States?

Despite the current absence of legal sportsbooks in Florida, it is poised to become a major player in the sports betting landscape once the legal barriers are resolved. The potential market coverage in Florida is vast, with all major league sports being anticipated for betting inclusion. Additionally, leading sportsbooks like DraftKings and FanDuel are expected to offer exclusive betting lines on partnered sports league markets like the NFL and NBA. When it comes to competitive odds and prices, Hard Rock Sportsbook is likely to bring its renowned favorable MLB point spreads and competitive betting odds from other states to Florida. In terms of gambling revenue, Florida has the advantage of being the largest state in the US, both in terms of population and number of pro sports teams, to have briefly launched sports betting. With its massive population and thriving sports scene, it is expected that the sports betting market in Florida will generate significant tax revenue for the state once the legal obstacles are overcome.

How to Place a Bet in Florida

Currently, the only form of online wagering available in Florida is horse race betting. To place legal horse racing bets in FL, follow these simple steps:

  1. Do your research. Familiarize yourself with the horses’ form, track conditions, and consider expert tips to make informed betting decisions.
  2. Visit a legal horse racing betting site like BetAmerica, Caesars, TVG, or TwinSpires.
  3. Register your account by providing the necessary information, including email, full name, address, phone number, and the last four digits of your Social Security number. This information is essential for account verification and ensures responsible gambling practices.
  4. Confirm that you are at least 21 years old and agree to the site’s terms and conditions.
  5. Deposit funds into your account using the available payment methods. Make sure to deposit enough to take advantage of any welcome bonuses.
  6. Select a horse race based on your research and place your bet by adding it to your bet slip, selecting your desired stake, and confirming your bet placement.
  7. If your bet is a winner, follow the instructions provided by the site’s cashier section to withdraw your winnings.

Banking Methods Available in Florida

Several payment methods are available for online horse racing betting sites in Florida. These include bank cards like Mastercard and Visa, as well as commonly-used e-wallets like PayPal. These payment methods are expected to be available if online sportsbooks are allowed to go live in the future. While some betting sites accept deposits via Apple Pay, additional fees may apply. Deposits can also be made using EZ-Bank, although withdrawals may not be facilitated through this method.

Who is Not Eligible to Bet in FL?

When sports betting becomes available in Florida, certain individuals will be prohibited from placing bets in accordance with regulations from the Seminole Tribe and the Florida Gaming Control Commission. The following are examples of individuals who will be restricted from participating in sports betting:

  • Athletes, coaches, or members of professional sports and college teams
  • Individuals with a stake in a sports team
  • Employees of leagues that create sports rules (e.g., NHL, NCAA)
  • Employees of organizations licensed by the Florida Gaming Control Commission, including key staff, owners, directors, and officers
  • Individuals with the professional authority to influence players
  • Referees for professional and college sports leagues
  • Individuals with access to non-public information about a sports team (e.g., player medical records)
  • Individuals who have voluntarily excluded themselves from gambling activities
  • Individuals prohibited from betting on a state or federal level (e.g., due to criminal history)

Latest Florida Sports Betting Updates

As of now, there are no legal online sportsbooks operating in Florida. The Seminole-owned Hard Rock Sportsbook, which launched on November 1, 2021, was suspended on December 4, 2021, due to a federal lawsuit challenging the gaming compact. The US District Court is not expected to address the case until August 2023. Therefore, no retail sports betting locations have been launched in Florida at this time.

Current Sports Betting Status in Florida

Currently, there are no online sportsbooks available in Florida, despite it previously being listed as one of the legal states for betting. The online launch of sports betting was suspended on December 4, 2021, following the legal challenge to the gaming compact by a federal judge. It is anticipated that the case will not be addressed until August 2023. As a result, no retail sports betting has been launched in Florida.

Timeline for Sports Betting in Florida

The timeline for sports betting in Florida is as follows:

  • July 13, 2022: The US District Court, District of Columbia, released a timetable showing discussions of Florida’s compact with the Seminole tribe will take place in August 2023.
  • January 30, 2022: DraftKings and FanDuel admit defeat in their push to get Sports Betting Initiative #21-13 on the November 2022 ballot.
  • December 4, 2021: Hard Rock Sportsbook suspends its activities in Florida.
  • November 22, 2021: Federal judge Friedrich deems the gaming compact invalid and orders the halting of Florida online sports betting.
  • November 1, 2021: Seminole Tribe-owned Hard Rock Sportsbook launches and begins accepting bets from players across Florida.
  • August 6, 2021: The gaming compact is deemed approved by the United States Department of the Interior, allowing progress despite the absence of explicit approval.
  • July 2, 2021: A lawsuit is filed by the owners of pari-mutuel facilities challenging the compact’s legality regarding the acceptance of state-wide online sports bets.
  • June 2021: Both DraftKings and FanDuel contribute $10 million each to the Florida Education Champions political committee to garner support for Sports Betting Initiative #21-13.
  • May 23, 2021: The gaming compact is confirmed with approval from the legislative bodies of Florida House and Florida Senate, leading to the establishment of the Florida Gaming Control Commission.
  • April 23, 2021: A gaming compact agreement is reached between the State and the Seminole Tribe, paving the way for the Seminole to have exclusive coverage of sports betting in Florida. This agreement includes a guaranteed payment of $2.5 billion in the first five years.
  • March 13, 2020: The Seminole and state legislators meet to discuss a new gaming compact, but no agreement is reached due to time constraints.
  • January 2020: Attempts are made to exclude the Seminole from future sports betting negotiations after they stop making payments to the state. These attempts are unsuccessful due to clauses in Amendment 3 that require voter referendums for changes to Florida sports betting legislation.
  • October 20, 2019: A new gaming compact is agreed upon by Senator Wilton Simpson and the Seminole Tribe, but it is not signed by Governor DeSantis.
  • November 2018: Amendment 3 passes, requiring voter approval for any future changes to Florida sports betting legislation.
  • May 14, 2018: The US Supreme Court overturns the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), leading to discussions on sports betting returning to Florida.

Florida Sports Betting Background

Prior to the overturning of PASPA in 2018, sports betting was not a significant issue in Florida. The state only showed interest in legalizing sports betting after the Supreme Court ruling. Pari-mutuel horse racing has been legal in Florida since 1931, but it wasn’t until negotiations began with the Seminole Tribe to extend payments from the previous gaming compact that sports betting discussions arose. The previous compact had allowed the Seminole to introduce blackjack at their casinos, thanks to former Governor Rick Scott’s signing in 2015. However, negotiations stalled in 2020, allowing for the inclusion of sports betting in the gaming compact agreement and subsequent launch of the Seminole-owned Hard Rock Sportsbook in November 2021.

Future of Florida Sports Betting

Until the US District Court addresses the ongoing legal case in August 2023, sports betting will remain unavailable in Florida. If the court rules in favor of the Seminole Tribe, there is the potential for sports betting to return, allowing the relaunch of Hard Rock Sportsbook and the possibility for third-party operators like BetMGM, Caesars, DraftKings, and FanDuel to partner with the Seminole Tribe. However, if the court ruling does not favor the Seminole Tribe, sports betting may be limited to tribal reservations. Additionally, despite their unsuccessful bid to get sports betting on the 2022 November ballot, DraftKings CEO Jason Robins remains optimistic about another push in 2024. If successful, the 2024 initiative aims to legalize sports betting at pari-mutuel facilities and professional sports venues. The future of sports betting in Florida remains uncertain, pending the resolution of the ongoing legal challenges and potential legislative changes.

Florida Responsible Gambling Resources

In Florida, responsible gambling resources are available to assist individuals in need. These include:

  • Florida National Council on Problem Gambling, which provides an overview of available help in the state, a national 24/7 helpline, and live chat support.
  • Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling, offering toolkits, research material, and support for problem gamblers and their families.
  • Gamblers Anonymous, which organizes anonymous meetings and offers its own treatment program for individuals seeking support for gambling issues.

It is important to note that there is currently no state-wide gambling exclusion program in place, but individual casinos may offer self-exclusion options. Additionally, many sportsbooks expected to launch in Florida will also have responsible gambling measures and account tools such as betting limits, time-outs, and reality checks to promote responsible gambling practices.

Who Oversees Sports Betting in Florida?

The Florida Gaming Control Commission (FGCC) is the governing body responsible for overseeing sports betting in Florida. Established on July 1, 2022, the FGCC assumed all responsibilities from the previous regulatory body, the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering. The FGCC’s role encompasses the regulation of card rooms, gaming compacts, pari-mutuel wagering, slot machines, and the state lottery. Specifically, the commission directly interfaces with the Seminole Tribe to enforce safe and responsible sports betting practices within the state of Florida.

FAQs

Is betting legal in Florida?

Currently, there are no legal sportsbooks operating in Florida. Sports betting was briefly legalized on November 1, 2021, but was subsequently suspended on December 4, 2021, due to a federal lawsuit challenging its legitimacy.

Who governs sports betting in Florida?

The Florida Gaming Control Commission (FGCC) oversees all matters related to sports betting in Florida, including pari-mutuel wagering. The commission assumed the responsibilities previously held by the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering as of July 1, 2022.

How old do you have to be to bet in Florida?

The legal age for sports betting in Florida is 21 years old. This age requirement applies to both online and retail sportsbooks.

When will sports betting launch in Florida?

Online sports betting launched in Florida on November 1, 2021, but was suspended on December 4, 2021. The resolution of the ongoing court case, expected in August 2023, will determine when sports betting may return to the state.

Where can I bet on sports in Florida?

Currently, there are no legal sports betting options available in Florida. However, online wagers can still be made on horse racing through platforms such as BetAmerica, Caesars, TVG, and TwinSpires. Additionally, off-track betting locations exist for pari-mutuel betting on horse racing, greyhound racing, and jai alai.

Are sportsbooks in Florida safe?

There are currently no legal sportsbooks operating in Florida. Any site purporting to offer sports betting in the state should be treated with caution. To ensure safe and legal betting, individuals may need to travel to states where sports betting is regulated.

Would I have to pay taxes on betting winnings in Florida?

Yes, taxes must be paid on sports betting winnings in Florida. Winnings exceeding $600 require the completion of a W-2G form, and sportsbooks may withhold up to 25% of winnings for federal withholding tax. However, there is no state income tax on gambling winnings in Florida.

Can you play DraftKings in Florida?

No, DraftKings online sportsbook is not currently available in Florida. However, DraftKings’ Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) games can still be played in the state.

Can you play FanDuel in Florida?

No, FanDuel is not available for sports betting in Florida at this time. Nonetheless, FanDuel’s Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) offerings remain accessible in the state.

Can you play BetMGM in Florida?

No, BetMGM is currently unavailable in Florida. However, if sports betting is reinstated in the state, it is likely that BetMGM will launch and provide its services to Florida residents.

Can you play Caesars in Florida?

No, Caesars Sportsbook is not currently available for sports betting in Florida. However, Caesars launched a racebook in the state on June 24, 2022.

Can you play TwinSpires in Florida?

No, TwinSpires is not available for sports betting in Florida. TwinSpires plans to shut down its sports betting operations soon. However, horse racing enthusiasts can still place bets on TwinSpires’ platform.

Which sportsbooks will be available in Florida in the future?

Once sports betting becomes available in Florida, it is expected that the Seminole-owned Hard Rock Sportsbook will be the first sportsbook to launch. Other major operators like Caesars, BetMGM, DraftKings, and FanDuel are also likely to enter partnerships with the Seminole Tribe and establish their presence in the Florida market.


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Doug I. Jones

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