2021 was a big year for online sports betting in Florida, as the southeastern American state sanctioned this form of gambling for the first time. This development has been seen in a number of other states across the country and has generally resulted in a roll-out of gambling products and platforms. However, Florida’s situation seems a little different.
For starters, the agreement between the Seminole Tribe – one of only two Native American tribes permitted to run betting operations in Florida – and the State of Florida was challenged in December 2021. After the Federal challenge at the end of last year, legislators have been debating the legality of online sports gambling in Florida.
Established Gambling Organizations in Florida
The Seminole Tribe already operates six casinos in the state, and it was thought that this established status would help tribal leaders gain approval for expansion into online sports gambling. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had signed off on a three-decade-long compact that would permit this expansion, but this has since been suspended while legislators debate the rollout.
Much of the digital infrastructure had already been made available to bettors in the state. For example, the Seminole Tribe had already released a mobile sports betting app as part of their Hard Rock group of casino products. However, the availability of this application was short-lived, and it was withdrawn after the compact was questioned in December of last year.
The Current Status of Gambling in Florida
So, where does this leave sports bettors in the state of Florida? As of June 2022, it is still illegal for gamers to place online bets on sporting competitions. However, this ban does not seem to be effectively enforced, and the Floridian players are still able to access betting platforms and websites even without subverting local internet protocols. This has led some gamers to essentially ignore the ongoing debate and opt to continue placing bets as normal.
Players in Florida can also cross into nearby states and legally gamble on sporting events from these locations. Both nearby Mississippi and MS-neighbor Arkansas permit sports betting to varying degrees, and this may be attractive for out-of-state gamblers who don’t mind making a long journey.
Future Moves in the State
Florida has a thriving sports scene and is home to some of the biggest sports teams in the country – there are five major teams in Miami alone and three more in Orlando. With this kind of underlying interest in sports, it does seem likely that online sports betting will eventually be made legal. However, disputes continue to rage in federal courts, as legislatures and policymakers struggle to reach an agreement on the revenue share and tax details associated with gambling in the state.
Whether the gambling compact is agreed upon in 2022, or if gamblers will have to wait longer to enjoy sports betting options in their home state, remains to be seen. For the moment, it is still a case of so near yet so far for sports betting operators in Florida.