Florida is a state that has a lot of gambling from things such as racetracks, jai alai hubs, and casinos and on top there are many professional sports teams and big-time college football and basketball programs. However, sports betting is not legal in the state and it does not look like it will be anytime soon. There has been major opposition from the tribal casinos in the state are very opposed to sports betting. There is no lack of places to make bets but there is still a long way to go for sports betting to be legal in the Sunshine State. This is even the case after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May of 2018, which made sports betting legal, but on a state by state basis. There have been several states that have legalized sports betting in 2019 alone, but Florida is not one of them. There have been some recent talks between the Florida government and the main tribe in the state in the Seminole Nation and while that is a step in the right direction no compromise has been made between the two to legalize sports betting.
There is no shortage of gambling in the Sunshine State, but that hasn’t translated into legalizing sports betting yet. Over half of the 50 states either have legalized sports betting or there is a bill on the table, but Florida is not even close to that point yet. The United States Supreme Court lifted a federal ban on sports betting in 2017 leaving the decision up to each individual state. There is some support for sports betting to become legalized in Florida, but there has been even more opposition to the discussion. Professional leagues are starting to partner with major betting companies to increase their own revenue, and they would love to get Florida on board. With a ton of professional sports teams located in the Sunshine State, there would be plenty of betting action going on. The Seminole Tribe controls the casino gambling scene in the state, and they are doing their best to keep the sports betting industry from taking their money.
Florida Sports Betting AT A GLANCE
Status of Betting AT A GLANCE: There was a bill introduced in the Florida Senate this spring, but nothing was really done with the matter. Voters previously voted against a referendum that would have legalized sports betting, and now the Seminole Tribe is fighting back as well. It is going to take a lot of persuading to get something in the works.
Where to Bet AT A GLANCE: It’s hard to imagine that the Seminole tribe is going to allow for new retail sportsbooks to pop up, and so the best place to bet on sports would be in their casinos. The Seminole tribe has seven casinos in operation, and the Miccosukee tribe operates one. The best place to make a sports bet at this time is online through an off-shore sportsbook.
Teams AT A GLANCE: The state of Florida has no shortage of professional sports teams, and their major universities have strong athletic traditions as well. Basketball and football are the two most popular sports in the state of Florida, while baseball hasn’t really taken off as well as expected. There are plenty of extremely popular teams that will drive sports betting if it becomes legalized.
Florida Sports Betting Status
Florida is one of the several states where the main issue of making sports betting legal is between the tribes that run the casinos and the state’s lawmakers. The Seminole Tribe is totally against sports betting the Sunshine state, as they do not want any form of expanded gambling to take away from their land-based casinos. Governor Ron DeSantis met with gaming stakeholders in Florida and then met with higher ranking officials of the Seminole Tribe including Seminole Tribe of Florida Chairman Marcus Osceola and CEO of Seminole Gaming Jim Allen. They discussed expanded gambling in Florida and the legalization is sports betting and while a compromise was not made it is a start. Pari-mutuel facility owner Barbara Havenick stated to the Florida News Service that, “It’s the first time since I’ve been involved that he’s (Governor Ron DeSantis) gotten this whole group together. There’s never been a time that the industry’s been together and hasn’t wanted to kill itself.”
Not only does the Seminole Tribe oppose any type of gambling expansion gambling in the state, including sports betting, but are very opposed to mobile gaming. That is a big issue in terms of sports wagering, as that is where the majority of sports bets would be made if sports betting were legalized in the Sunshine State. That has been the case for every state that has already legalized sports betting and in the first year where sports betting was legal in New Jersey 80% of the bets made were on mobile devices. The tribes around the nation that control gaming in states are not keen on mobile gaming, which they believe will lead to other types of mobile gaming, mainly casino betting, as they think that will take away business from their land-based casinos. This is even the case even though the tribal casinos would be allowed to have sportsbooks at the casinos and would get a part of the gaming revenue, which is significant. This is especially the case in Florida being a very populous state.
There has also been other opposition to sports betting being legal in Florida from such groups as No Casinos in Florida. They drafted a letter to the Gov. of Florida saying in legal terms that sports betting falls under casino gambling. Because of this and Amendment 3 passing in 2018 any expansion of sports betting would have to be in the hands of the voters for any gambling expansion in the state with 70% of the voters would have to approve. As you can see there are many hurdles in having sports betting legal in the Sunshine State.
States all across the country are working fast and furious to legalize sports betting, but that isn’t the case in the state of Florida. Everyone thought that Florida would be slow to legalize sports betting, but at this time it appears that it might not even happen at all. One of the biggest roadblocks in a sports betting bill is the Seminole tribe that operates the casino industry throughout the state. The Seminole tribe doesn’t want to lose out on the revenue that their casinos generate, but state lawmakers are trying to convince them to at least be open to having a discussion.
Florida lawmakers passed Amendment 3 last November which would require voters to approve any expansion of gambling in the state. That was seen as a positive step for supporters of sports betting, but the Seminole Tribe has been fighting back. Governor Jim DeSantis was able to arrange a meeting with some of the leaders of the Seminole tribe in April, but there wasn’t much advancement that came out of that meeting. The state has offered the Seminole tribe a new 31-year deal that would let them keep control of the casino industry throughout the state, but would also allow for potential retail sportsbooks to be opened in Florida. The Seminole tribe would be given the first chance to offer sports betting, and then expansion would come sometime down the road.
It does appear that there were some positive steps taken during the spring lawmaking session in Florida, but sports betting doesn’t appear imminent in the Sunshine state. The Seminole tribe is ultimately going to have the final say in whether or not sports betting becomes legalized, and if it does it will likely be on a small scale. The state is hoping to generate some extra revenue by legalizing sports betting, but most of the money will stay with the tribe. Florida will be a state to keep an eye on in 2020 as talks will once again pick back up.
Where to Bet on Sports in Florida
In the talks that have been in Florida House and Senate if sports betting were to be legal the places to make bets would be through a mobile application, the tribal casinos, racetracks, racecinos, and the jai alai betting areas around the state. There are many racetracks in the state, as greyhound and horse racing are big in the Sunshine State. There are also quite a few tribal casinos where land-based sportsbooks would be placed. As stated, before most of the bets would come from a mobile gaming application and if and when sports betting is legal in Florida the operator of the mobile application would have to come to an agreement with the Government on the taxes on each wager made. In the states that have legal sports betting some have a flat tax on every wager made no matter where it is while some have a higher tax on wagers made through a mobile application.
If a sports betting bill does finally get passed in the state of Florida, it will be interesting to see what establishments can offer betting. The state of Florida does have plenty of casinos, but the Seminole tribe controls most of the action. Betting at a Seminole casino will probably be the best place to make a sports bet, but there are some other possibilities. Casino boats and online betting are two other intriguing options that might be available in Florida.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Tampa Bay & Fort Lauderdale: The most popular casinos in the state of Florida are the two Seminole Hard Rock locations in Tampa Bay and Fort Lauderdale. These two casinos do great business, and they would certainly be the leaders in sports betting if it ever becomes legalized. There are other Hard Rock Hotels and Casinos across the country that have begun to offer sports betting, and it would be a pretty quick process to get it up and running in Florida.
Seminole Brighton Casino: Another of the biggest and best casinos in Florida is the Seminole Brighton Casino located in Okeechobee, Florida. This is a 25,000 square foot facility that is at the heart of the gambling scene in the Sunshine State. The Seminole tribe would likely try to get sports betting up and running at this casino pretty quickly as well, and its popularity would help it become one of the hot spots of sports betting in the state of Florida. The casino itself doesn’t have anywhere for patrons to stay, but there are several hotels in close proximity, and there are plenty of other things to do.
Miccosukee Resort and Gaming: If the Seminole tribe is willing to give up a little control over the sports betting industry in Florida then the Miccosukee tribe should be able to offer it at their casino as well. The Miccosukee Resort and Gaming is an upscale site that is an extremely popular tourist attraction in the state. There is plenty of space at this location to open up a sportsbook, but they would likely need to partner with a major player in the sports betting industry to get things up and running. The Miccosukee tribe has a long ways to go to catch up with the Seminole tribe, but increased revenue from sports betting could help them out.
Online Betting: It is currently legal for residents of Florida to place bets online through an offshore sportsbook, and this might still be the best option even if it becomes legal in the state of Florida. Traveling to a casino isn’t feasible for everyone in the Sunshine state, but placing a bet through a mobile device is. There are currently no plans or discussion to legalize mobile betting in Florida, and so an offshore sportsbook will still be the way to go. If the Seminole tribes are able to get approved for an online sportsbook through their casino locations then that might be a gamechanger for fans of sports betting.
Casino Boats: There are a handful of casino boats located throughout the state of Florida, and they could play a factor in sports betting if it ever becomes legalized. Casino boats are located on both coasts in Florida and they take off into the ocean and Gulf of Mexico to allow people the opportunity to bet. It seems feasible that casino boats would be able to offer the same type of betting options with sports as an alternative to casino sports betting.
Latest Florida Sports Betting News
ACC, SEC Worrying About Legalized Betting: While most of the focus throughout the country is on professional sports betting, college sports betting are scaring two major conferences in the South. The Atlantic Coast Conference and the Southeastern Conference are two of the most powerful leagues in the country, and they are keeping a close eye on what states are offering sports betting. The three major universities in Florida belong to these conferences, and would play a huge role in the sports betting scene. SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey recently spoke the media and expressed concern about the way injuries are addressed and reported as it relates to sports betting.
Disney Becomes Part Owner of DraftKings: Disney has been working closely with the Seminole tribe to keep sports betting out of the state of Florida, but they just recently became a part owner of DraftKings. Disney is partnering with Caesars Entertainment to produce more sports betting content, which would contradict everything that their CEO has said in recent interviews. It is still unclear at this time what Disney is planning to do with their stake of DraftKings, especially as it relates to the sports betting scene in the Sunshine State. Most experts believe that Disney is going to shift their sports betting views and will go all in as a way to try to increase even more revenue. If Disney decided to support sports betting in the state of Florida then that could be a huge step towards legalization.
Seminole Tribe Withholding Money From State of Florida: The Seminole Tribe and the state of Florida have a revenue-sharing agreement, but that isn’t stopping the tribe from going to war with state officials. The Seminole Tribe is withholding $350 million from the state of Florida because they feel that the deal was reneged by state lawmakers. Pari-Mutuels have popped up throughout the state of Florida and has taken revenue away from the Seminole tribe, and they are now fighting back against the law. Leaders of the Seminole tribe recently met with Governor DeSantis about the possibility of legalizing sports betting, but they clearly aren’t happy about the current deal.
Sports Teams That Drive Betting
The state of Florida has a whole slew of professional teams that would help drive betting if it ever becomes legal. There are nine professional sports teams located throughout the state, and several great college sports teams as well. Almost all of the big cities in Florida have at least one team to root for, and sports plays a huge role in the state’s economy.
The state of Florida went a long time without having an NBA team, but now they have two teams to call their own. The Miami Heat and the Orlando Magic have built up a nice rivalry in recent seasons, and that should continue to grow. Both teams have terrific fanbases, and the Miami Heat have won a pair of titles this decade.
Read more about Miami sports betting and teams/places to bet here.
There are three NFL teams in the state of Florida, but most of them are overshadowed by the terrific college football teams. The Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Miami Dolphins have all struggled of late, but they would play a huge role in the sports betting scene in the state. NFL fans show up in droves to support their team even if they are bad, and betting on the NFL is one of the most popular things to do in this country.
For whatever reason, Major League Baseball isn’t very popular in the state of Florida despite having two teams. The Tampa Bay Rays and the Miami Marlins are always near the bottom of the league in attendance, despite having some great success in the last 20 years. Each of these teams hope that legalizing sports betting would increase interest in their sport and in their teams.
The Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers are both members of the National Hockey League, and they are both extremely popular throughout the state. The Lightning have been a title contender in recent seasons, and the Panthers are getting better. Betting on hockey is a difficult thing to do, but there would be some action on these teams.
The University of Florida, University of Miami, and Florida State are the three biggest and most popular college teams in the state. All three of these schools have a legendary history in college football, and they have rabid fanbases. These teams usually square off each year, and there would be plenty of betting action when these teams are on the field.
Florida might be known for its sunshine and beaches, but sports is at the heart of everything that makes the Sunshine State so great. With nine professional teams and a couple of great universities there will be no shortage of betting action if and when sports betting becomes legal in the state of Florida.
- Casino Legal Status: The Seminole tribe runs the casino operations throughout the state, and retail casinos are illegal. Casino boats are legal in the state of Florida, but all betting must be done offshore.
- Florida Sports Betting Legal Status: Sports betting is not legal in the state of Florida, and won’t be until at least 2020. Betting on sports through an offshore sportsbook is legal.
- Horse Racing Legal Status: Horse racing is legal in the state of Florida, but all bets must be placed in-person at a racetrack in the state. There are two major racetracks in the state of Florida.
- Poker Legal Status: Poker games are legal at the casinos in the state of Florida, and playing online poker isn’t seen as a punishable offense in the Sunshine state.
- DFS Legal Status: DFS sites such as FanDuel and DraftKings have been able to take bets from residents of Florida without any interference from state officials.
- Lottery Legal Status: The Florida government runs the lottery in the Sunshine state. There are over 13,000 authorized Florida Lottery retailers throughout the state.
Sports Betting Timeline
- June 10, 2019: Seminole tribe announces it is withholding money from state government
- May 20, 2019: Disney purchases major state in DraftKings
- April 2019: Governor DeSantis meets with Seminole tribe leaders
- March 2019: Bill introduced to legalize sports betting in Florida
- November 2018: Amendment 3 passed by voters to make gaming expansion harder