The sun in Florida is certainly more consistent than Florida sports betting – been and gone in the blink of an eye after Hard Rock pulled its app on 4th December 2021 after there were a number of court rulings against the legality of sports betting in Florida.
The app was available for only one month – and as it stands, the Seminole Tribe is appealing the court decision that overturned the 2021 Florida gambling compact.
As it stands, DraftKings and Fanduel are still working on a ballot initiative to legalize widespread sports betting in November 2022, which would mean sports betting in Florida could again go live in 2023.
Florida Sports Betting Timeline Until Now
- 1st November 2021: The Seminole Tribe of Florida launched the Hard Rock online sportsbook app which was available across Florida with no in-person registration required.
- 10th November 2021: The Federal Government submitted new arguments suggesting that state law allowed betting off tribal land.
- 22nd November 2021: The federal court ruled to vacate the compact between Florida and the Seminoles. However, Hard Rock continued to offer bets during the appeal.
- 29th November 2021: The Seminole Tribe lost its initial request for a stay but then filed another with the D.C. Court of Appeals asking the court to suspend the initial ruling and allow the Seminole Tribe to continue accepting bets while the appeal was being processed.
- 4th December 2021: The Seminole Tribe pulled the Hard Rock Sportsbook app after several rulings against the legality of Florida sports betting. An appeal is in process.
- 17th December 2021: FanDuel and DraftKings started the fight to get a sports betting question on the 2022 ballot.
- 2nd January 2022: The Florida Education champions received only 272,000 of the necessary 892,000 verified signatures to get their Florida sports betting initiative on the 2022 ballot. They have been given until 1st February to collect the rest.
- 14th January 2022: DraftKings started offering free bets for all of their FL sports betting customers if they reach the 892,000 signatures needed for the ballot.
- 31st January 2022: FanDuel and DraftKings failed in their ballot measure, which means that Florida may not again get commercial sports betting until 2025.
Is Sports Betting Legal in Florida Now?
Well, technically yes, it is legal in Florida, although there is no regulated app available. The Hard Rock app was available only for one month, between November and December, having been discontinued after a number of court hearings. However, the case is being appealed by the Seminole Tribe
In August, the Department of Interior agreed to the tribal compact legalizing Florida sports betting being published in the Federal Register, and although this isn’t approved, it does mean that the compact can proceed.
Where We Are Now
Although discussions in most US states are made public, all sports betting negotiations in the sunshine state have been done privately. Deals for Florida sports betting needed negotiations for a larger gambling compact between the Seminole tribe and the state.
In April 2021 this is what happened after Governor Ron DeSantis signed a new agreement with the Seminole tribe that would legalize sports betting via mobile app. This deal was approved in May 2021 and was allowed to go ahead in August 2021 without explicit approval.
It was this move that questions the definition of mobile sports betting under tribal gaming law. Furthermore, locals are also building up legal challenges against Florida sports betting, stating that it violates the constitutional amendment needing voters approval.
Online Sports Betting in Florida
There has only ever been one online sports betting and mobile sports betting site in Florida, the Hard Rock Sportsbook, which was available for just one month.
The Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood is operated by the Seminole Tribe where it is the most famous brand. Because the tribe enjoys exclusivity in Florida sports betting, it was obvious that the Hard Rock Sportsbook would be the first option presented.
However, the deal between the tribe and state government did make allowances for other sportsbook brands to be included. However, these brands will be required to make a deal with the Seminole tribe before being allowed to enter the Florida sports betting markets.
So, if BetMGM wanted to offer online sports betting in Florida, they need to agree to pay the Seminole tribe a percentage of revenue in exchange.
The Current Status of Florida Sports Betting
The official launch of Florida sports betting was November 202, when the Hard Rock mobile app first launched. However, it has since been discontinued. State legislators approved a new deal between the Seminole tribe, which operated Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida and the state government.
A deal failed to be reached in 2019 – and the Seminoles declared that they would be unable to make their 2020 annual gaming payment to the state of $330 million. However, a new compact that would restart the payment was agreed upon in 2021, which would cover a long list of gambling priorities for the tribe and the state.
Online sports betting in Florida received legislative approval and was then published in the Federal Register, but it still remained a grey area because of lawsuits. ever since Hard Rock was launched, it has remained complicated for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, in 2018, the state voters agreed to an amendment to the Florida constitution giving them the power to choose as and when there could be any gaming expansion in future. Interest Groups across Florida made vows to challenge this new compact and any arising Florida sports betting site on these grounds, saying the deal would also need approval from the ballot box.
Secondly, legal experts can’t agree on whether or not it is legal for a tribe to facilitate mobile sports betting off of its reservation land. The IGRA (Indian Gaming Regulatory Act) could mean that sports wagering would be limited to the borders of the tribe’s reservations.
As such, legal online sports betting in Florida is always on a knife-edge.
The Florida Sports Betting Law
The compact reached in 2021 requires the Seminole Tribe to share 13.75% of its sports betting revenue with the Florida government, on the condition that they sign sports betting contracts with no less than three pari-mutuel operators in three months.
These compacts would let pari-mutuels launch their own skins, but would need bets on the Seminole server. If these arrangements were not put into place, then the revenue share requirement would be upped by 2% until it happens. Pari-mutuels would be allowed to retain 40% of the sports betting revenue.
The SB 2-A then made the new gaming compact into law, which gives the Seminole tribes exclusivity to run sports betting in Florida.
Your Legal Sports Betting Options in FL
Apart from horse racing betting, there are now no legal online sports betting sites that will accept residents of Florida.
However, several illegal offshore betting sites allow those in Florida to sign up and play. These do not hold any licenses or certifications from the US though – and this means that without regulations, they can’t necessarily be trusted to pay out your winnings – and could make off with your funds.
The only way that you can safely bet on sports within the US is on a licensed sports betting site.
A lot of the pari-mutuel locations in Florida offer Jai alai, which is a sport that closely resembles racquetball.
Most Popular Sports Betting Markets in FL
Florida is a state packed full of sports teams – and sports fans. It has over 21 million people, which makes it the third most populated state in the US, after California and Texas, it also attracts the second-highest number of tourists, after California.
Florida NFL Betting
Betting on the NFL is huge in Florida, given that it has three teams – the Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It is the most popular league to bet on in the entire US market every single year. With the Buccaneers have landed six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback, Tom Brady, just before he announced his retirement, there has been plenty of excitement around the team
Florida NBA Betting
Florida is also home to two NBA teams – Orlando Magic and Miami Heat, which also garners plenty of interest in Florida. The NBA is hugely popular for in-play bets because it is jam-packed full of action
Florida MLB Betting
The state of Florida also has two Major League Baseball fans for those interested in MLB betting – the Tampa Bay Rays and the Miami Marlins. Both haven’t really garnered a great deal of support in the state, but Florida’s function as Grapefruit League’s Spring Training home does indicate that baseball does enjoy some popularity in the sunshine state.
Florida NHL Betting
Florida also has two teams in the other of the US’ four major professional sports – NHL, with the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning. Tampa Bay Lightning has won the Stanley Cup and is one of the best teams in the league.
Florida NCAA Betting
Aside from professional teams, there are also three big college football teams in the state – the Miami Hurricane, Florida State Seminoles and the Florida Gators. However, regulations around NCAA betting are often very different from professional sports betting.
Where To Bet on Sports in Florida
The tribal compact of the state with the Seminoles includes Florida retail sportsbooks, but the details are still being worked out. To date, the tribe owns six Florida casinos. So, if the laws around sports betting become more punter-friendly, then it is likely that some of the bigger Seminole tribe casinos will have an on-site sportsbook. These might include:
- Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Hollywood
- Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Tampa
- Seminole Casino, Coconut Creek
- Seminole Classic Casino, Hollywood
- Seminole Casino Hotel, Immokalee
- Seminole Casino Brighton, Okeechobee
Moreover, sports betting facilities will likely open in Florida’s pari-mutuel horse racing venues such as Tampa Bay Downs Racecourse and Gulfstream Park Racetrack. However, they would need to partner with the Seminoles to be able to operate a sportsbook in Florida according to the most recent regulations.
Daily Fantasy Sports Betting in Florida
Ultimately, Daily fantasy sports (DFS) is currently unregulated in Florida, and so FanDuel and DraftKings operate within state borders. As well as regulating sports betting in 2021, there were attempts to codify DFS but ran out of time.
Representatives of the two DFS sites were against the proposed deal because it would need them to close down their operations until they were licensed.
There have been earlier efforts to formally legalize daily fantasy sports in the state, but these have been opposed by the Seminole tribe.
Even as far back as 1991, Attorney General Robert Butterworth said that legalizing DFS betting would be a risky situation as it would violate the state law. As such, Yahoo! DFS site will not accept players from within Florida state borders
Horse Racing Betting in Florida
The state of Florida authorizes pari-mutuel betting on horse racing, greyhound racing, harness horse racing, quarter-horse racing, jai-alai games and even cardroom poker games. Moreover, the state has also authorized slot machine gambling at pari-mutuel facilities in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
There are a few popular thoroughbred racetracks in Florida, including Tampa Bay Downs, Gulfstream Park and Gulfstream Park West. Gulfstream Park plays host to three major preparatory races for the Triple Crown races in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, Holy Bull Stakes and Florida Derby.
Hialeah Park, which opened its doors one hundred years ago in 1922 offers quarter-horse racing.
Whatever horse racing you wager on in Florida, it will be regulated by the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering.
In addition to retail betting, you can also bet on horses online in Florida, using sites such as TwinSpires, BetAmerica and TVG.
In addition, Florida also used to be known as the dog racing capital of the US, being home to 11 greyhound tracks. However, voters decided to stop dog racing in a 2018 vote, ceasing to continue at the start of 2021.
Florida Sports Betting Historic Timeline
By supporting Amendment 3, The Seminole took charge of any changes to gambling in Florida away from the legislature.
This amendment prohibits the legislature from authorizing any new casino betting. As such, expansions to gambling laws need to be not just approved but initiated by state voters. This would mean that it would be impossible to further legalize sports betting in Florida without input from the Seminole.
The agreement between the former Governor Rick Scott and the Seminole came to an end, which meant renegotiation of the compact.
A tentative agreement with the tribe was reached, which would have paid at least $500 million to the state every year in return for agreeing to close down the designated card games available at state pari-mutuels.
Pari-mutuels and Tribal casinos would be allowed to offer sports betting and pari-mutuels would be required to pay the Seminoles a cut of the revenue. However, the Governor refused to sign off on it, and in response, the Seminole said that they would cease their payments of $350 million until it was resolved.
With money from the Seminoles stopping, the legislators spoke about cutting them out of gambling completely and just focusing on pari-mutuels and private gambling companies.
The state senator filed a bill that would authorize the state lottery to regulate sports betting without tribal input. However, the Seminoles responded. The bill ended up going nowhere and legislation that forbade the Florida Lottery from offering sports betting was passed in the House of Gaming Control subcommittee. However, it was not called for a House vote.
Although there was the standard talk about what was happening behind the scenes, there was no actual attempt to reach an agreement as the session ended in mid-March.
The latest Florida sports betting proposal would allow the Seminole tribe to be the host for mobile sports betting all across the state. They would then continue to pay – and even increase its revenue share payments to Florida.
The state would, however, also allow pari-mutuel facilities to keep offering designated player card games.
Sports betting finally arrived in the state of Florida when the Seminole Tribe agreed to a new compact that would involve mobile sports betting in Florida. The deal between the governor and tribe was signed off in May 2021. The government then allowed it to be included in the Federal Register.
The agreed deal brought years of negotiations to an end, and it seemed that a lot of progress was being made – although this seemed to be not quite the case long-term. It seemed as though the spread of legal sports betting in the US had finally made an impact in Florida.
However, after the compact was signed by DeSantis, it was the subject of several lawsuits, which brought the mood down. The Hard Rock launched its sportsbook app In November, but just one month later it was shut down again when the federal court decided that the compact between the Seminoles and Florida would be vacated. The Seminoles decided to appeal the decision, but the app was still made unavailable.
Florida Sports Betting FAQs
Who Would Regulate Legalized Sports Betting in Florida?
The state gambling regulation is handled by the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering. This includes the authority to carry out Florida’s oversight responsibilities in accordance with all provisions as outlined in the compact with the Seminole tribe.
Will Mobile Florida Sports Betting be Legalized?
Although everything is still on a knife-edge, hopefully, there will be a point in the future where punters can step away from retail sports betting and wager via a sports betting app. When that occurs is undetermined, as the only previous app was available for just one month.
Who Can Legally Bet on Sports in FL?
Legalized sports betting is available to anyone over 21 years old. However, there are some exceptions including kay personnel from professional and college sports teams such as players, coaches, trainers, officials and even sports referees.
What Has the Seminole Tribe got to do with Betting?
The Seminole Tribe is Florida’s Native American tribe. It has the exclusive right to offer different casino-style games in Florida – including a sportsbook.
The Seminole both owns and operates the Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida, which is the largest casino facility in the area.
Is it Legal To Bet on Offshore Sites that Accept US Players?
Not really, no. A sports betting website that says it accepts bets from anywhere in the US is an offshore operator. However, despite Florida sports betting legislation not offering any state-regulated alternatives, it isn’t legal for those sites to take bets from US citizens and there is no protection available for anyone that bets on them