Florida sports betting came and went swiftly. After facing several court rulings questioning its legality, Hard Rock removed its sportsbook app in December 2021.
The app was operational for just over a month. Presently, the Seminole Tribe is challenging the court’s decision that invalidated the 2021 Florida gambling agreement.
However, the appeals process is progressing slowly, indicating that the return of online sports betting to Florida in is unlikely.
Meanwhile, FanDuel and DraftKings conceded defeat on a ballot measure aiming to legalize widespread online wagering. Currently, no other initiatives are in progress.
Is sports betting permitted in Florida?
Currently, it is no longer considered legal in Florida. However, this could potentially change in the future as the courts deliberate on the industry’s fate.
Presently, there are no legal options for betting in Florida. Following the discontinuation of the Hard Rock Sportsbook app in December 2021, there is no available app for betting in the state.
In August 2021, the 2021 compact, which aimed to introduce statewide mobile gambling in Florida, was filed with the Federal Register but was later invalidated by a federal court a few months later. The Seminole Tribe of Florida is appealing this decision.
As a result, this type of betting is essentially unavailable in Florida until the lawsuits are resolved and the appeals process concludes.
While public legislative hearings are typically the venue for discussions on sports betting in most states, the negotiations in Florida were predominantly conducted behind closed doors.
The inclusion of the said wagering in Florida necessitated the negotiation of a broader gambling compact between the state and the Seminole Tribe.
In April 2021, this negotiation resulted in Governor Ron DeSantis signing a new compact with the Seminole Tribe, paving the way for some form of statewide mobile wagering in Florida.
The deal received approval from state legislators in May 2021, and in August, the US Department of Interior permitted the tribal compact, which would legalize sports betting in Florida, to be published in the Federal Register. While this was not an outright approval, it allowed the compact to move forward.
However, the question of how mobile betting aligns with tribal gaming law was subsequently brought before the court system due to legal challenges mounted by local groups.
These groups argued that sports wagering violated a constitutional amendment requiring voter approval or contravened the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. A federal judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, resulting in the vacating of the compact pending appeals from both the tribe and the Department of Interior.
As of May 2023, this is the current status. The timeline for the return of legal betting on sports in Florida remains uncertain, but it is unlikely to occur.
May 11, 2023 – This week, Florida-based micro-betting app betr gained attention by launching in Massachusetts and also acquiring the gaming solutions platform Chameleon from FansUnite Entertainment.
March 30, 2023 – In preparation for the Kentucky Derby on May 6, DraftKings introduced its horse racing app, DK Horse, in Florida, even though sports betting is not currently legal in the state. However, betting on horse racing is permitted.
March 27, 2023 – Two Florida schools, Florida Atlantic University and the University of Miami, advanced to the Final Four of March Madness. If they win their games against San Diego State and UConn, respectively, they could potentially face each other in the finals.
March 16, 2023 – Florida Atlantic (No. 9, East Region) and Miami (No. 5, Midwest Region) both earned spots in the 2023 March Madness tournament. Miami will be playing against Drake, while FAU will be facing Memphis.
March 7, 2023 – NFL wide receiver Calvin Ridley of the Jacksonville Jaguars was reinstated by the NFL after serving a one-year suspension for gambling. Ridley, formerly with the Atlanta Falcons, was suspended in November 2021 for placing multiple parlays.
February 28, 2023 – As selection Sunday approaches, the University of Miami is the sole Florida college ranked among the top 25 college basketball teams. However, residents of Florida will most likely not have the opportunity to legally bet on the NCAA tournament.
February 17, 2023 – Once again, another Super Bowl has passed without the legalization of it in Florida. Despite missing out on the revenue from the year’s biggest sporting event, it seems unlikely that a resolution will be reached before the next major event, March Madness.
Sportsbook in Florida
At one point, Florida had only one online sportsbook available, and it was none other than Hard Rock Sportsbook. However, due to ongoing court hearings and appeals, the app is no longer accessible in the state.
The prominent and well-known brand, Hard Rock, is operated by the Seminole Tribe at their Hollywood-based Hard Rock Casino. As the Seminole Tribe had exclusive rights to offer sports betting in Florida, the Hard Rock Sportsbook brand stood out among the available options.
The approved agreement between the state government and the tribe allows for other sportsbook brands in Florida to participate. However, the catch is that these brands must negotiate an agreement with the Seminole Tribe to gain access to the Florida market.
For instance, if DraftKings Sportsbook or BetMGM Sportsbook desires to offer this service in Florida, they would need to enter into an agreement that includes paying the Seminole Tribe a percentage of revenue in exchange for operating within the state.
In November 2021, the official launch of sports betting in Florida took place with the introduction of the Hard Rock Sportsbook app, which has since been discontinued. The state legislature gave approval to a new gaming agreement between the government and the tribe operating the Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
In 2019, when an agreement was not reached, the Seminole Tribe announced that they would not make their annual gaming payment of approximately $330 million to the state in 2020.
However, in 2021, a new compact was signed to reinstate the payment, encompassing a comprehensive set of gaming priorities for both the state and the tribe.
While Florida received legislative approval and was published in the Federal Register, its implementation is currently uncertain due to ongoing lawsuits. The launch of the Hard Rock online sportsbook faces complications primarily due to two factors.
First, in 2018, state voters approved a constitutional amendment granting them the authority to decide on future gaming expansions.
Interest groups within the state have vowed to challenge the new gaming compact and the potential introduction of Florida sportsbooks, arguing that the deal must also receive voter approval through a ballot initiative.
Second, legal experts are divided on the legality of tribes offering mobile betting outside of their reservation lands. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) may restrict wagering to the physical boundaries of tribal lands, but this matter remains unresolved and undecided.
Lawsuits arising from one or both of these factors eventually led to a halt in Florida sports betting and the invalidation of the tribal gaming compact. Appeals are currently underway, but the process is progressing slowly.
The journey of sports betting in Florida has been filled with twists and turns. While the Hard Rock Sportsbook app marked the official launch in November 2021, it was later discontinued. The state legislators approved a new gaming deal with the Seminole Tribe, but lawsuits and legal uncertainties have placed it in a state of limbo.
Challenges arise from the requirement for voter approval under the constitutional amendment passed in 2018, along with the unresolved question of whether tribes can facilitate mobile sports wagering beyond their reservation lands. These factors led to lawsuits, ultimately halting Florida betting and vacating the tribal gaming compact.
Despite ongoing appeals, the process has been slow, leaving its future in Florida uncertain. As of now, there are no available options for legal sports betting in the state. The journey towards a resolution continues, and until the lawsuits are settled and a clear legal framework is established, its return in Florida remains in question.
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