Florida online sports betting laws
With the third highest population in the US and a host of big-name sports teams within its boundaries, Florida is a tempting market for sports betting companies. The odds of Florida sports betting beginning any time soon are, however, very long. Although Florida recently reached an agreement for a revised tribal gaming compact with the Seminole that would authorize sports betting in the state, there are still several obstacles in the way of wagering being permitted here.
Administrative law and government relations attorney
Jennifer has a degree in Journalism from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, and graduated from George Washington University Law School, Washington, D.C, in 2005. She's been living in Las Vegas helping clients in the casino and gaming industry, as well as other regulated businesses, across Nevada for over 15 years.
She has authored and co-authored numerous articles and books on US gaming law, including most recently, The Law of Regulated Gambling: A Practical Guide for Business Lawyers, American Bar Association (2020), and That (Expletive) Broad: Women Who Broke Barriers in the Casino and Gaming Industry (2020).
Is sports betting legal in Florida?
Not yet. Despite agreement being reached with the Seminole tribe to authorize sports betting in the state, ongoing legal wrangling suggests it will be some time before Florida sports betting becomes a reality.
Is online sports betting legal in Florida?
Florida online sports betting is not yet permitted. Although the state offers a potentially lucrative market, don’t expect to see mobile sportsbooks in Florida anytime soon.
The prospects of Florida joining the ranks of states to legalize sports betting are being throttled by legal disputes and conflicting interests.
Florida has a long history of gambling on horse racing, and more recently slots and casinos. It also has a population of more than 21 million and a host of elite professional and college sports teams.
Nevertheless, progress towards Florida sports betting being legalized since the overturn of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in 2018 has been extremely slow.
This is despite the potential riches on offer. It is estimated that the monthly sports betting handle in this wealthy state could potentially exceed $2 billion.
Florida’s legislature called a special session this spring, in which they overwhelmingly ratified CS/SB 2-A: Implementation of the 2021 Gaming Compact Between the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the State of Florida. The compact provides for sports betting in the state to be operated by the Seminole tribe.
The Seminole tribe owns and operates the seven casinos in the state, which is also home to more than 20 “racinos” at racetracks.
The Seminole carry plenty of political clout and it was important that the implementation of sports betting in the state include their buy-in. This is in part because their existing compact with the state stipulates that any new gaming activity should be carried out by them.
The recent proposed compact does just that. Its provisions include that the tribe would operate sports betting in the state, with mobile sports betting to be allowed through online apps managed by the Tribe as well as Florida’s existing racetracks and jai-alai frontons. Under the terms of the compact, the tribe will also be allowed to offer craps and roulette at its casinos, and to build three new casinos on their tribal land in the state.
The compact, however, although agreed to by the state legislature and signed off on by Florida’s governor, still requires federal approval. It must be signed off on by the United States Secretary of the Interior as required by the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).
The proposed compact is also facing legal challenges, including a lawsuit recently filed by the owners of Magic City Casino in Miami and Bonita Springs Poker Room. The suit claims that the sports betting deal violates the IGRA, because it would allow online sports bets to be placed from anywhere in the state, and so the Seminole would be operating gambling outside of their tribal lands.
Another potential legal hurdle to overcome is a 2018 Florida constitutional amendment that requires statewide voter approval of gambling expansions in the state. Under what is known as Amendment 3, expansions of gambling must be placed on the statewide ballot through the citizens’ initiative process.
It will likely take some time to deconstruct through these legal issues, meaning that sports betting in the Sunshine State could be on hold for a while longer.
In-person and online betting on horse racing are both legal in Florida. Bets can be placed in-person at any licensed racetrack, through a multitude of off-track betting locations (OTBs) or online via mobile licensed betting sites. The state has many fantastic venues and races, including Gulfstream Park, which hosts the Grade 1 Florida Derby, a key prep for the Kentucky Derby, and the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup. Not forgetting Tampa Bay Downs, which is the only thoroughbred racetrack on the west coast of Florida.
With so many top pro teams based here, and a vibrant college sports scene, there are plenty of games with local interest for Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) players to enjoy. However, Florida is one of many states in which DFS operates in a legal gray area. Although DFS has never been specifically declared illegal, it also has not been specifically legalized either.
Efforts to legalize it have been fiercely opposed by the Seminole Tribe of Florida. As a result, not all the main DFS operators offer games in the state – although FanDuel and DraftKings are among those that do.
The Seminole, however, apparently softened their opposition when negotiating their recent compact with the state. Among its provisions is a definition of fantasy sports as “games of skill, not games of chance.” This definition was in the compact that was ratified by and signed off on by the state legislature and the governor, providing legal cover for fantasy operators in the state.
Florida is home to three NFL teams: the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Miami Dolphins, and the 2021 Super Bowl champions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Ten Florida college programs have football teams in Division I of the NCAA too – this is a state where football is huge, and the betting market around it will surely be similarly gigantic.
Even though there is no such thing as Florida sports betting, the state has several agencies focused on the provision of gambling in a responsible way.
That is due to the presence of casinos in the state, plus the many horse racing tracks where people can bet on the races in person and online.
Encouraging responsible gambling is an admirable step for any state to take, as is the provision of resources for the minority of people who encounter financial and emotional problems through excessive gambling:
Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling: Offers a wide range of useful information to help gambling industry employees understand the issues, and to encourage steps such as self-exclusion.
National Council on Problem Gambling: This is a national body with a presence in Florida and advice about where to find assistance, as well as a confidential 24-hour helpline.
The Florida Lottery: It strongly advises people to play within their means and offers tips on how to enjoy the lottery responsibly.
The first attempt to legalize any form of online gambling, in this case poker, is launched and then withdrawn.
Another attempt is made to legalize online poker but fails after opposition from Native American casinos.
Florida cracks down on online gambling in all forms, banning internet cafes from letting people play games while on the premises.
The Seminole Tribe of Florida support a state constitutional amendment that makes it impossible for any new form of gambling to be launched without voters’ approval – it also means the tribe must be consulted before sports betting can be legalized.
The focus is on renegotiating the gaming compact with the Seminole. No deal is reached.
Sen. Brandes files bills to legalize Florida sports betting without the Seminole. Despite intense discussions, no progress is made.
The state of Florida reaches an agreement on an amended compact with the Seminole tribe to authorize sports betting in the state. The compact faces numerous legal hurdles, however, making it unlikely that sports betting in the state will launch by this fall as planned.
At present, there are no locations for Florida sports betting. Under the terms of the compact with the Seminoles, it is envisioned that sports betting could be offered at the state’s tribal casinos as well as via mobile sports betting apps managed by the Tribe as well as Florida’s existing racetracks and jai-alai frontons.
Six of the state’s casinos are run by the Seminole Tribe of Florida and one by the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida.
There are also more than 20 “racinos” in the state with facilities for casino gambling at racetracks.
The most up-to-date list of Florida’s tribal casinos can be found here.
There are no legal Florida betting sites. With the recent compact with the Seminole that would authorize online sports betting caught up in legal challenges, this may not change anytime soon. The only exception is horse racing – there are several racetracks in the state and online betting on the action there is allowed.
Not yet. An agreement with the Seminole tribe in Florida that would authorize online sports betting in the state is facing multiple legal hurdles, so the prospects of that situation changing any time soon are small.
As things stand, there is no legalized Florida sports betting. The only sport on which bets can be placed in Florida is horse racing. There are currently no legal Florida sports betting sites.
No. Bet365 is the biggest online bookmaker in the world, however, with Florida online betting not legalized yet, it cannot operate here. It is certain that, if and when legalization happens, Bet365 will be challenging for a license to play in the Sunshine State.