Florida Sports Betting

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Although October 15, 2021 was set as the date for Florida sports betting apps to launch, it is looking like November 15 is a more probable date as Florida and the Seminole Tribe face numerous lawsuits challenging the launch date. 

The nature of the sports betting bill in Florida and the gaming compact signed between the state and the Seminole Tribe means that sports betting in Florida is facing a lot more challenges than other states who legalized betting this year. Although the gaming compact and companion legislation was a step in the right direct, challenges remain on various fronts. Sports fans could see apps launch in November, but that date is far from certain.

Florida Sports Betting Updates

  • September 22, 2021:

    Representatives for the Seminole Tribe admitted a mobile betting app launch on October 15 is unlikely. Documents filed with a federal court set November 15 as a more likely launch date.

  • September 16, 2021:

    Florida faces a number of legal hurdles before sports betting will become a reality in the state.

  • September 1, 2021:

    Governor Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe filed briefs in support of Florida’s revised gaming compact.

  • August 12, 2021:

    Magic City Casino and Bonita Springs Poker Room file a lawsuit in US District Court in DC, home to the Department of Interior, arguing that when Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland approved the compact, she exceeded her authority.

  • August 6, 2021:

    Florida’s sports betting compact received federal approval, but some legal challenges remain.

  • July 13, 2021:

    DraftKings and FanDuel are spending millions in order to help Florida’s sports betting initiatives pass.

  • July 6, 2021:

    Magic City Casino filed a lawsuit alleging the Florida mobile sports betting section of the compact violates the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

  • June 23, 2021:

    Florida voters could get a say on sports betting in the state in 2022. The Florida Education Champions a group created by DraftKings and FanDuel will start collecting signatures to qualify for the 2022 ballot.

  • May 26, 2021:

    Governor Ron DeSantis signed the Florida sports betting compact.

  • May 19, 2021:

    One day after the Florida Senate approved the agreement, the state House of Representatives did the same.

  • May 18, 2021:

    The Florida Senate approved the sports betting agreement between the state government and the Seminole Tribe by a vote of 38-1.

  • 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.

When Will Florida Sports Betting Apps Launch?

Just before the end of the 2021 legislative session, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced an agreement with the Seminole Tribe that would launch mobile betting in the state by the end of the year. But Florida sports betting is not a done deal. The US Department of the Interior issued a deemed approval letter on August 6, which paved the way for mobile betting to launch on October 15, 2021, although that date is unlikely.

On August 17, two pari-mutuel companies — Magic City Casino and Bonita Springs Poker Room — filed a lawsuit in US District Court in the District of Columbia arguing that when Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland approved the compact she exceeded her authority. They filed the case in DC because it is home to the Department of Interior.

This is the second case filed by Magic City.  The first was against DeSantis and the state of Florida earlier in the summer.

Also an issue is a potential for Florida voters to have a say in 2022. There are efforts underway, supported by some of the larger sportsbooks, to bring forth a ballot initiative approving sports betting in the state — and not just on tribal lands.

This page will break down everything you need to know about sports betting in Florida so you’re prepared when this industry eventually launches.

Review Of Top Sports Betting Sites In Florida

The Seminole Tribe has already partnered with gambling operators Caesars Sportsbook (via 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. Moreover, both companies are behind a massive public interest campaign intent on putting mobile betting to a public vote to ensure they are not left out by the Seminole Tribe. 

In September 2021, Rush Street Interactive, the company behind BetRivers and SugarHouse brands entered into a partnership with Magic City Jai-Alai to bring the sport to Illinois and Iowa bettors. Magic City is also behind one of the federal cases challenging the legality of the Florida sports betting compact. It’s unclear what this means for BetRivers’ future in Florida.

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

Although there is a possibility of seeing mobile sports betting apps during the 2021-2022 NFL season, it’s important to note the risks bettors take by using illegal or offshore betting sites while waiting for a Florida mobile betting launch.

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. Even Louisiana legalized sports betting via referendum in 2020 and is working on its rules and regulations to launch betting. 

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

The main success in bringing legal betting to Florida is that it is even being discussed in the first place. After Gov. DeSantis reached an agreement with the Seminole Tribe, resulting in a new draft Gaming Compact, things looked like smooth sailing for sports fans and bettors in the state. Experts are estimating apps could launch in fall 2021. But, there are some issues that could stand in the way of mobile apps launching in Florida. 

Where Could Florida Improve Online Gambling

Although the Gaming Compact between Florida and the Seminole Tribe left the door open to online casino gaming in the future, this looks a lot less likely to happen. The Gaming Compact included a provision stating that the parties to the agreement could reconvene in three years to expand the Compact to include online casino gaming. The State Senate, though, pulled this provision immediately on the first day of its Special Session. This means the likelihood of online casino gaming coming to Florida is slim.

Another way in which Florida lags in comparison to other states with legal gaming is the power of the Seminole Tribe. Other states with legal betting have online betting apps owned and operated by commercial entities or tribes, and often a combination of the two. The Seminole Tribe has the sole power of all legal gaming in the state, which places them in a position of power that could lead to less competition in the state.

Legalization Effort In Florida

The road to Florida sports betting legalization has been far from smooth. Although there is a possibility that mobile apps could launch in October 2021, there are additional roadblocks standing in the way.

In April 2021, the state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe entered into a Gaming Compact, which gave the tribe a 30-year term in which it controls all sports betting in the state.

On August 6, 2021, the US Department of Interior issued a federal “deemed” approval letter to the state of Florida. Once Florida entered into a gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe, the US government had 45 days to approve or reject the compact. Rather than taking direct action, as it did in Arizona, the Department of Interior allowed the 45-day time frame to lapse. At the time of the deemed approval, it was reported that mobile betting could launch under the compact on October 15, 2021.

There are a few roadblocks in the way, however. First is a federal lawsuit brought by Magic City, which alleges that the Florida Gaming Compact violates the Indiana Gaming Regulatory Act by permitting a tribe to offer mobile betting off of tribal lands.

Second, Florida Education Champions kicked off a campaign in July 2021 to put Florida mobile betting in front of the voters in a referendum. Notably, the organization is backed by DraftKings and FanDuel, who are using the initiative to gain a foothold in the state by promising betting revenue will go to supporting education in the state. In this case, if the Federal lawsuit denies the Seminole Tribe the chance to move forward on mobile betting this year, the referendum initiative would place the topic on the ballot in 2022.

All of this together means that a fall 2021 launch of mobile betting in Florida is far from certain.

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 reaches an agreement with the Seminole to expand gambling in Florida to include both retail and online betting. 
  • August 2021 – The US Department of Interior issued a “deemed” approval letter to the betting compact, implying it is legal under US law. 

Florida Teams

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:

  • Basketball
  • Baseball
  • Football
  • Hockey
  • Soccer

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:

  • Darts
  • Cricket
  • MMA fighting
  • NASCAR
  • Lacrosse

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

How old do I have to be to bet online in Florida?

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.

Is it legal to bet on college sports in Florida?

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.

Who will be in charge of regulating sportsbook apps in Florida?

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.

Will you need to be a resident of Florida to bet online?

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.

Is it safe to use an online sportsbook app?

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.

Is DraftKings legal in Florida?

Not for sports betting, but it does already offer daily fantasy sports.

More Resources On Florida Sports Betting

About the Author

Amber Hoffman

Amber is the Managing Editor of Gaming Today. She writes for a variety of websites in diverse industries, including gaming and travel and is a fan of international football (not "soccer") and Gaelic sports.

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