Current Online Betting Status: Halted with no projected start date until at least 2023
Sports betting and sportsbooks has appeared imminent in the state of Florida throughout Governor Ron Desantis's tenure. Legal sports betting took another step forward in the Sunshine State in late-April of last year when DeSantis negotiated a gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe. The deal still needs to move through Florida legislature before legal sports betting officially arrives in Florida.
The deal is far from perfect but is a major step forward for Florida sports bettors eager for the arrival of legal sportsbooks in their state. Under the agreement, the state would see two online skins enter the market. The first would go to Hard Rock, which is operated by the Seminole Tribe in Florida. Who would win the second skin is not yet known, but it seems likely one of the larger US online sportsbooks would be the heavy favorite.
Wouldn't it be cool for Florida sportsbooks to become a reality? Many residents sure think so!
While the deal announced between Ron Desantis and the Seminole Tribe casino is a step in the right direction, state and federal legislators still have work to do to bring legal sports betting to Florida. The current deal needs approval from state legislators, and regulations including licensing fees and tax rates must be established.
That being said, many experts agreed the largest hurdle facing sportsbooks like FanDuel, DraftKings, and PointsBet entering the market was the Seminole Tribe's stranglehold on the state. With this deal in place, there is at least a path forward for sportsbooks in the States.
In addition to moving online sports betting forward in Florida, the recent wave of legislation in the state has paved the way for retail sports betting as well. This includes both the state's 82 tribal casinos and several of the state's professional sports stadiums. This could include 8 stadium casinos in Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Miami.
While Florida does not face a state budget deficit like New York, there is still incentive to tap into the estimated $6 billion in tax revenue legal sports betting would bring the state. In fact, the agreement guarantees the state $2.5 billion in tax revenue over the first five years of the deal. The majority of that money would likely go to the state's public schools. Florida currently ranks 45th in the nation in average teacher salary.
Unfortunately, U.S. District Court Judge Dabney L. Friedrich has put a halt on any type of mobile sports betting in Florida because she thinks it will violate The Indian Regulatory Gaming Act. Because of this and the fact that the U.S. Court of Appeals will not hear the case anytime soon, Floridians will have to wait until at least 2023 to see if mobile sports betting will make it to their home state.
The only sportsbook that is guaranteed a space in the Florida sports betting market at the moment is Hard Rock. The Hard Rock sportsbook is currently only operating in New Jersey, where it has the sixth-largest market share.
If this is in fact the bill that Florida moves forward with, the question remains, what sportsbooks are able to receive a skin from the Seminole Tribe. We will have to wait and see how this all plays out, but there are three clear favorites that enter the market. Industry leaders FanDuel and DraftKings have the capital to make the deal worthwhile for the Seminole tribe, and William Hill already has a partnership in place with Casino Miami.
Clearly this will be a massive win for whichever sportsbook enters the Florida market first. With nearly 22 million residents, Florida represents the third-largest market in the United States behind California and Texas.
The path to legal sports betting in Florida is a complicated one. Clearly, the biggest questions for Florida bettors are when will we be able to bet legally and what sportsbooks will be eligible to obtain a license and operate in the state.
That being said, Florida has one of the largest populations in the country and a large number of both professional and college sports teams. This should result in one of the largest influxes of new sports bettors that the industry has ever seen.
The FAQs below are aimed to prepare these new bettors for the arrival of legal sports betting in their state.