It’s a great time to be a Florida sports fan. The Tampa Bay Rays look set to conquer the legendarily tough AL East, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers just won the Super Bowl, and the Tampa Bay Lightning just won back-to-back Stanley Cups on the day. That’s not to mention the optimism around the Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars – who’re expected to be on the upswing this season – the Florida Panthers finally starting to realize the strength of the roster, and Inter Miami CF finally playing in the MLS.
With so much sporting action in the major leagues and an almighty following for the amateur ranks, it will surprise many that, despite the state being able to for three years now, Florida’s sports betting scene is still up in the air. There have been developments, but years of confusion has many Floridians not quite knowing if or when sports betting will become available in the Sunshine State. So, here’s what you need to know about sports betting in Florida.
The state of play in the Sunshine State
As it stands, there aren’t any operators authorized to offer sports odds and betting lines in Florida, with everything that you need to know about Florida sports betting in detail here. The guide shows that betting on horses at racetracks is still very much in play, as is gambling at casino resorts, with another route to gamin being via the legendary riverboat and cruise scene. However, the state of play looks set to change in the near future, with official developments announced by the state and federal government.
Of course, there’s been a great deal of discussion about Florida legalizing sports betting since PASPA was repealed in 2018. However, the historic locking of horns between the state and the Seminole Tribe of Florida was often cited as a roadblock to the creation of an expansive sports betting scene. In late 2018, both Disney and the Seminole Tribe backed a successful amendment that would make it more difficult to expand the existing casino scene, which opposition stakeholders thought would block sports betting as well.
Fast-forward to the end of 2020, and a few bills had been put forth ahead of the 2021 session. Senator Jeff Brandes filed a collective of bills that aimed to integrate a mobile sports betting scene under the Florida Lottery as the regulator. However, the bills didn’t make any mention of the Seminole’s casinos. While not directly successful, the bills did open a new dialogue between governor Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe. In May 2021, it was announced that a new compact would allow for sports betting.
Originally, the plans were for daily fantasy sports, online casino games, and sports betting – offering a full digital gambling experience – but the former two were all but immediately removed from the table. Florida commissioned it into law, with the compact making sports betting an exclusive offering of the tribe online and via their casino establishments. In early August, the US Department of the Interior gave their seal of approval to the new gambling compact between Florida and the Seminole Tribe.
Now, as described in a report, Florida sports betting has been cleared to start from as early as October 15, 2021. Federal agents allowed the compact to pass their 45-day approval period, so the tribe will be able to offer mobile and on-site sports betting as well as games like roulette and craps. Not only does the approval make Florida the most populous state to introduce sports betting, with a population of 21.48 million, but it could also pump some $20 billion to the state over the next three decades.
A bubbling sports scene ready to bet
Everyone likes to bet on the teams that they follow, especially when those teams are from one’s home state. In Florida, sports fans are spoiled for choice. Both the Lightning and Buccaneers are among the favorites to go all the way, again, this year, with the Rays proving themselves to be a top baseball club. Of course, the main attraction is the NFL. While the Jacksonville Jaguars will be focussing on now starting from the bottom with a top-class rookie QB, the Miami Dolphins return even further along with their rebuild with an improved Tua Tagovailoa, per this story, to perhaps mount a challenge on a playoffs spot.
When sports betting does finally get going, under the exclusive deal with the Seminole tribe, any of their locations could become bookmakers. So, Hard Rock Hollywood, Hard Rock Tampa, Coconut Creek, Classic Casino Hollywood, Hotel Immokalee, and Casino Brighton could very well offer sports betting within a matter of months. They’ll also have an online offering, but it’s not yet known if that will launch in line with their initial land-based betting.
So, Florida looks set to join the growing number of states that allow both online and land-based betting, with the Seminole Tribe headlining the new gambling scene.