With an an April 30, 2021, deadline approaching for this year’s legislative session, time is of the essence for the legalization of sports betting in Florida. On April 23, 2021, Governor Ron DeSantis announced an agreement with the Seminole Tribe that would launch mobile betting in the state by the end of the year.
This page will break down everything you need to know about the sports betting situation in Florida so you’re prepared when this industry eventually launches.
Florida Sports Betting Updates
April 23, 2021:
Seminole Tribe Agreement Reached – Gov. DeSantis announced a long-awaited agreement between the state and the Seminole Tribe that paves the way for legal sports betting in the state. Mobile betting apps could launch before the end of the year.
April 19, 2021:
Senate President Wilton Simpson made a public statement promising sports betting would happen this year.
March 22, 2021:
Governor DeSantis announces that the state was working with the Seminole Tribe to reach a negotiation. Florida sports fans would know one way or the other whether sports betting would launch in 2021.
Gov. DeSantis has already spoken to several representatives of gambling institutions in the state and mentioned that he and other legislators were “getting close” to a deal with the Seminole Tribe. With this being said, there aren’t any specifics available about the supposed deal. Furthermore, Gov. DeSantis has historically opposed sports betting legalization.
Time will tell whether sports betting finally becomes a reality for Florida residents over the next year or two or if it is kicked down the road even further. More likely, sports betting will not be legalized until 2022 or 2023 at the earliest.
Review Of Top Sports Betting Sites In Florida
It’s tough to say what sports betting sites will be the top operators in any future sports betting industry for Florida, as there aren’t any currently active platforms at this time.
However, we can make some educated guesses about what sports betting sites will likely pursue licensure in Florida, either due to current activities or because of relationships with the Seminole Tribe or other groups.
For example, the Seminole Tribe has already partnered with gambling operators William Hill and Bet365 in the past. Both of these operators have highly reviewed and popular sportsbook apps, so they may pursue licensure if and when sports betting is legalized by partnering with the primary gambling organization in Florida.
Furthermore, the Seminole Tribe owns Hard Rock International, which already offers online sports betting in states like Nevada, Iowa, and New Jersey. So the tribe is no stranger to sports betting as a concept – they’re just trying to negotiate the best situation for themselves with the state government. Hard Rock could become a major sports betting brand in this state if the tribe is given exclusive rights to sports wagering as they desire.
But there are other options that are potential sportsbook platform alternatives. DraftKings and FanDuel – two of the largest sportsbook brands in the industry – already offer daily fantasy sports to Florida residents. Technically, DFS doesn’t count as official gambling, so both brands are allowed to offer services in Florida despite grumbling from the state government.
Therefore, it would be relatively trivial for both of these sportsbook operators to simply expand their already active apps to also offer sports wagering.
Additional sportsbook operators we might see include:
How To Place A Bet In Florida
If and when sports betting finally comes to Florida, it’ll help to already know how to place a bet with your favorite sportsbook app. Let’s break down the process you’ll be able to use with your sportsbook platform of choice when it launches.
Downloading An App
First, you’ll need to download the sportsbook app to your iPhone or Android device. iPhone users have it easy: all you have to do is type in the name of your sportsbook into the App Store search bar, then download the app to your phone. Installation should start automatically, and you can open the app afterward.
Android users must go through a slightly more complex process. In the past, the Google Play Store didn’t offer any gambling apps. That changed in early 2021. Many sports betting apps are now in the Google Play Store, but not all. If the Florida sports betting app you want is not in the Google Play Store, you can visit the sportsbook’s website and download the app from there.
Navigate to a “download” page or a similar spot, then click the appropriate links to start the download process. Note that you may need to give the website permission to access your phone for the download to complete.
Register For An Account
After downloading your favorite sportsbook, you’ll be able to register an account.
To do this, open the app and click on the registration button. Then provide some key pieces of personal information, including your Social Security number, date of birth, physical address, and more. All of this will be checked against government records to verify your identity and your age (you have to be 21 or older to place any sports wager in any state in the US).
After the site verifies your identity, it’ll also verify your location, both by checking your provided address and through the geolocation software that will automatically be installed alongside the sportsbook app. The geolocation software will prevent you from placing a wager outside of state lines.
Making A Deposit
Once you’ve made an account, you can make a deposit! All popular sportsbooks will offer a variety of deposit and withdrawal methods, the most common including:
- Debit and credit card transfers
- Direct bank wires or transfers
- Transfers from electronic wallets like PayPal
- Cash cage deposits at partnered casinos
- And more
The exact deposit methods available to you will depend on the sportsbook you choose to download. Check out your options carefully so you can use your deposit method of choice.
Claiming Opening Bonuses
You’ll also want to claim any opening bonuses provided to new account holders before placing your first wager. Opening bonuses are often heavily determined by your initial deposit amount or are limited to a certain timeframe, such as seven days to place one of many free bets.
Again, be sure to check out the opening bonuses provided by various Florida sportsbooks. The opening bonus offers could help you pick between two sportsbooks that both look pretty attractive.
After finally claiming any available bonus credit, you can finally place a wager! Navigate through your sportsbook of choice, find a betting line that looks great, and put your money down!
Florida Legal Sportsbooks
As mentioned, it’ll likely be quite some time before legal sports betting finally launches in Florida. So what’s the big deal? Why bother waiting for legal sports betting sites when there are illegal or offshore options already available?
In truth, you should never use an offshore or illegal betting site for several reasons:
- They have terrible digital security, which places both your personal information and your winnings at risk
- They also provide subpar betting experiences since their betting lines and odds are not nearly as player-friendly compared to legal or licensed sportsbooks
All in all, legal and fully licensed betting sites are safer and more secure than even the most attractive illegal sportsbook. While you will need to pay taxes on your winnings, it’s a small price to pay for the better security and peace of mind you’ll get knowing that your deposits, winnings, and personal information are all safe from hackers or sketchy organizations.
Florida Sports Betting Revenue
Perhaps the single most important aspect that may sway Florida legislators and the public toward sports betting legalization is revenue.
As mentioned above, the Seminole Tribe stopped paying the state government $350 million in annual revenue in 2019, when they contested that allowing racinos to provide various card games broke the 2010 Compact. This took a serious bite out of the state government’s budget, which was only compounded with COVID-19.
All told, the Florida state government has had to deal with a $3 billion shortfall between the years 2020 and 2021. That has had serious negative effects on its operational abilities and the comfort of its people.
Sports betting is one potential pathway to additional revenue that the government may not be able to afford to pass up. Just how much revenue can the state government expect? It’s tough to say with any specificity.
But other states betting industries can provide some insight into the revenue the Florida state government may expect. For example, New Jersey brought in over $50 million in November 2020 alone. That wasn’t even the state’s most profitable month; in October, it brought in nearly $59 million.
Additionally, reaching some kind of sports betting licensing agreement would allow the state government to bring in revenue from the Seminole Tribe once again. All in all, the government could see hundreds of millions or even close to $1 billion in annual revenue per year once a sports betting industry is established.
How Florida Compares To Other States
At this time, Florida ranks pretty lowly compared to states with legal sports betting industries. This is no surprise, as Florida doesn’t allow legal sports betting except for one activity: horse race wagering.
This stands in stark contrast to many other states, such as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Colorado, all of which have booming sports betting industries that bring in hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue at minimum every year.
Additionally, Florida doesn’t have a big casino industry despite having several retail casinos dotted throughout its territory. The Seminole Tribe overall only brings in about $574 million per year as of 2019. That sounds like a lot of money, but it pales in comparison to states like Missouri, which brings over $2 billion in revenue, or New York, which brings in $2.7 billion per year in annual revenue.
All this is to say that Florida needs to do a lot for its gambling industry if it wants to catch up to these giants. Casinos need to expand and offer new gaming opportunities and luxury resort options, and sports betting needs to launch if it wants to benefit from the massive revenue streams just waiting to be tapped.
Florida Betting Successes And Failures
Florida Sports Betting Success
Currently, there haven’t been many successes for Florida’s sports betting scene. While Gov. DeSantis reportedly working with the Seminole Tribe to reach an agreement quickly (likely to make up for lost state revenue) is good news, the nonexistent sports betting industry has not gotten off to a great start.
Furthermore, the only proposed legislation regarding a future sports betting industry hasn’t been adequately discussed. This bill does have several attractive features, such as an accessible licensure fee that would surely draw in a lot of operators for great competition, but it’s not yet known whether this bill will serve as a template for future Florida sports betting legislation or if it will be thrown out.
Where Could Florida Improve Online Gambling
There are lots of places in which Florida could improve its online gambling industry. For starters, online gambling isn’t legal at all in Florida; daily fantasy sports operators barely manage to squeak by due to the legal gray area they occupy. As a result, there are no legitimate legal online gambling opportunities for Florida residents, aside from sweepstakes casino and poker sites.
This is a big shame, as the revenue the state government could enjoy from online gamblers is likely high.
There is one bright spot in Florida’s online gambling sphere: horseracing. Operators like TVG do offer online horserace bets to Florida residents, as the state allows both horse and dog racing at various race tracks and racinos throughout the state. This is the sole exception to online gambling activities in this state – even the state lottery cannot be participated and using a mobile app or online.
Legalization Effort In Florida
While there has been an attempt at a provisional sports betting bill – SB 392, to be specific, which was filed by Sen. Jeff Brandes – the bill hasn’t been discussed seriously despite having attractive provisions for operators, such as a low $100,000 licensure fee per operator and a 15% tax rate for all sports betting revenue. The legislative session ends on April 30, 2021, so any bill would need to be passed before that date for Florida sports fans to see betting this year.
The Florida sports betting situation is complex due to the Seminole Tribe’s near-monopoly on all Florida casino gaming. In 2010, the state of Florida signed a compact with the Seminole Tribe, granting them the exclusive right to provide and collect revenue from casino games and related gambling activities.
However, racinos in Florida (locations that combine racetrack and casino activities) provided various card games, which violated the compact according to the Seminole Tribe. As a result, they ceased making various revenue-sharing payments to the Florida state government in 2019.
Things are further complicated because the Seminole Tribe believes that they should have exclusive rights to all sports betting activities as an extension of their prior compact. Therefore, an agreement between the Florida state government, casinos and other gambling operators, and the Seminole Tribe will have to be reached before sports betting can come to Florida residents.
Furthermore, Amendment 3 of the state constitution was passed in 2018. This amendment requires a direct vote by Florida residents to legalize sports betting or authorize any new gambling activities.
The amendment is a significant roadblock for sports betting legalization, as it relies on public opinion being overwhelmingly for sports betting for the activity to be legalized. Given various lobbying groups from the Walt Disney Company and other “family-focused” organizations, it’s unlikely that general Florida public sentiment will shift massively over the next few months.
The sports betting legalization effort in Florida truly began around 2019, when the Seminole Tribe broke away from their pact with the Florida state government due to a disagreement about racino card game revenue and operation.
Since then, sports betting legalization has stagnated, as the state government and the tribe both attempt to come to a mutually beneficial agreement.
However, there has been a single consistent champion throughout this entire process: Sen. Jeff Brandes. Brandes has filed a number of sports betting bills to the Florida state Senate over the years, the most recent of which is SB 392. In fact, he has already pre-filed it so it can be heard by the Florida state legislature this year, in 2021.
This bill is an attractive bit of prospective legislation, setting an application and renewal fee for licensure at just $100,000. This is much lower than the fees found in other states with legal sports betting industries.
Furthermore, it would mandate that the Florida Department of Lottery will oversee and regulate all sportsbook operations. Any revenue created would be used to boost education throughout Florida and provide funding for similar public goods and services.
Additional details for this bill include:
- Self-service betting kiosks would be allowed under specific circumstances
- There would be some limit on how much a person might wager on a single sporting event
- No betting by athletes, referees, coaches, and more
- A hypothetical tax rate of 15% would be instituted for sports betting operators
Brandes has tried multiple times to get sports betting legalization rolling, although he hasn’t yet seen success. Hopefully, with the renewed negotiations between Gov. DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe, Brandes’s bill will finally be debated by the state legislature and some progress might be made.
Timeline Of Florida Sports Betting
- 2010 – The Seminole Tribe receives the exclusive rights to offer all gambling activities in Florida
- 2019 – The Seminole Tribe removes itself from the 2010 Compact due to a disagreement with racino card game revenue and operation. The state stops receiving revenue from its gambling operations, although casino operations continue
- 2020 – Sen. Jeff Brandes files SB 392, which would allow for legal sports betting
- 2021 – Gov. DeSantis renews discussions with the Seminole Tribe in order to reach an agreement concerning all gambling activities in Florida, as well as sports betting legalization
Florida is an attractive sports betting market for most operators in part because of the variety of professional sports franchises that make their homes in this state. With these franchises come small armies of fans who will likely be more than happy to put money down on their teams during upcoming matches.
Florida Professional Sports Teams
There are lots of popular professional Florida sports franchises you can support with your wagers. These include the Miami Heats, which is a famous NBA team and which started the careers of both Lebron James and Shaquille O’Neal.
Then there’s the Orlando Magic, another NBA team with around 2.7 million fans scattered throughout the state. Don’t forget the Miami Dolphins, an NFL team that has massive cultural power.
All told, you’ll be able to place wagers on all the major professional sport you can think of, including:
Florida College Sports Teams
Florida’s college team roster is also nothing to sneeze at. Take the Florida Gators, a college basketball team, and a college football team. Both teams have lots of supporters both within and outside Florida’s borders, but the Gators football team is also known as a team that produces a lot of future NFL stars.
While Florida has a variety of baseball, basketball, and football college teams to support, it’s not yet known whether collegiate sports betting will be allowed in the first place. Many other states with legal sports betting industries, such as New Jersey, do not allow you to put money down on college sports.
Other states have limitations on placing wagers on in-state college teams or games that take place at State University arenas. However, there are some states that don’t have limitations on collegiate betting.
It’s not yet known whether Florida’s future sports betting industry will allow collegiate betting entirely, not at all, or only a partial capacity.
Other Sports To Bet On In Florida
Alongside more traditional sports to put money down on, you’ll be able to place wagers on a variety of other sporting activities. Many major and established sportsbook operators, such as DraftKings and FanDuel, have wide betting markets for all kinds of activities and leagues, such as:
- MMA fighting
International sports are usually well represented by many major sportsbooks, too. These include Korean baseball, Australian rules football, rugby, and more. All in all, when Florida finally launches its sports betting industry, sports wagerers will find an almost infinite number of activities to bet on at their fingertips.
Florida Sports Betting FAQs
Right now, you can only bet online with horse races through apps like TVG. You need to be 21 years of age or older. This will almost certainly be the age necessary to participate in online sports betting when it launches in this state.
No, and it’s not yet known whether legal collegiate betting will be allowed when other sports wagering activities are legalized. Be sure to pay attention to this page and other Florida sports betting news sites so you are updated quickly when a decision is reached.
That’s likely to be the Florida Department of Lottery, which already oversees daily fantasy sports and the state lottery for regulatory purposes. Other states also use their lottery departments to oversee sports betting, so this has some precedent.
No. But if you download the Florida sportsbook app on your chosen operator, you will need to be within Florida state lines to place a wager.
It will be, provided you use a fully licensed and regulated sportsbook. These apps will be investigated and vetted by the state lottery or another organization, which will check them for good digital security and a solid operational history.
Not for sports betting, but it does already offer daily fantasy sports.