Without a doubt, Florida’s stance on the legality of sports betting can be complicated, but it’s interesting to explore. Since this is a constantly evolving matter, hardly anything is set in stone. In recent years, there have been many developments in this area, and it could very well be that we’ll see a dramatic turn of events at some point in 2022.
But before we cover what’s about to come and what’s at stake, it’s important to look at how things stand at the moment with regards to sports betting in Florida.
The current state of sports betting in Florida
Florida tends to have a mixed view on gambling. Officially, it’s limited to bingo halls, card rooms, casinos, and licensed racetracks as it relates to land-based betting. Much of it is operated by the Native American Seminole Tribe. These establishments host a variety of games that are based on chance, including poker, blackjack, and roulette. Long story short, you’re pretty much limited to betting on horse races.
When it comes to online gambling in Florida, this particular legal area is currently undergoing massive changes, with the focus being on legalizing sports betting and making it more accessible to everyone. As of right now, the most convenient way to bet on sports is to find an offshore sportsbook that’s registered outside of Florida. In turn, this means that any interaction between the operator and the player is governed by whatever laws apply in that jurisdiction. Since there are hundreds of bookies that are registered offshore, these won’t be hard to find, and each carries a vast selection of games to bet on, both in the casino as well as the sports betting department.
The Florida Education Champions Campaign
The people of Florida have spoken! As part of the 21-13 initiative aka. the Florida Education Champions campaign, signatures are being gathered in support of legalizing online gambling that will be presented to the government later on. The goal is to collect 891,569 signatures in total before February 2022. If the requirement is met, the 2022 ballot in Florida will feature the initiative. Christina Johnson, the campaign spokeswoman, is confident they will make it in time.
The people have spoken – Florida needs legalized sports betting!
The changes proposed
The Florida Education Champions Initiative is looking to introduce several changes, with the primary goal being to make Florida an open sports betting market. If successful, several licenses would be handed out to national sportsbooks, thus paving the way towards a legalized and regulated environment. In other words, those who are of legal age (as in 21 and beyond) would have no limitations with regards to betting, gaining the ability to freely bet wherever and whenever they choose to.
At the same time, legalizing sports betting in Florida would create another source of funding for the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund of the Department of Education through taxing the winnings. For additional information about the campaign, along with the complete list of changes proposed, you can visit the initiative’s official website.
The end of a monopoly?
Up until now, the Seminole Tribe held complete control over land-based sports betting in Florida, but now, if the proposed changes go into effect, that could change in 2022 and beyond. But even so, the Seminole Tribe would still retain a portion of the market, with the Hard Rock Sportsbook playing a significant role going forward, albeit being the only remaining platform standing.
As you can imagine, there has already been some pushback from various anti-gaming initiatives and corporations in Florida. In November 2021, Federal Judge Dabney L. Friedrich made a decisive ruling, and the Seminole Tribe has already filed an appeal. Even so, the Hard Rock Sportsbook platform has remained tapered shut as of December the 4th 2021.
2022: The definitive year for sports betting in Florida?
With all that’s happened and everything that’s still yet to be determined, the earthquake of changes can be felt all across the board. At any rate, 2022 looks to be the definitive year that will either make or break the future of sports betting in Florida. It is the hope of those who support the Florida Educations Champions Initiative that their voices will find a place and, ultimately, be heard when the vote on sports betting takes place.
But even if they reach their goals in 2022, it’s unlikely that things will be turned around overnight. In all likelihood, any practical changes to the sports betting market in Florida will be visible at some point in 2023. With a population exceeding 21 million people, this could very well become one of the largest betting markets in the entire country.
The year of 2022 will be a year of turmoil. It’s hard to say what the year will bring in terms of legalizing sports betting, as the outcome depends on multiple different factors. But if things fall into place, this could be the start of a revolution.