Home > Sports Betting > Florida

Legal Sports Betting In Florida

Hasan Nabulsi
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Those waiting on legal sports betting in Florida may finally get their wish in 2021.

On April 23, 2021, FL Governor Ron DeSantis and representatives of the Seminole Tribe of Florida signed a new tribal compact that will last for the next 30 years. This new compact will change the gambling landscape of the state and will include provisions for sports betting.

Retail sports betting will be offered at dozens of venues across the state and online sports betting in Florida will also be allowed under this new agreement between the parties. 

After years of negotiations, the state and tribe were finally able to meet common ground. However, it might still take another couple of years for sportsbooks in FL to launch.

Still, the largest hurdle to overcome is done and that’s something and sports betting fan in the Sunshine State can enjoy. 

Where Can You Bet On Sports In Florida

As of now, the locations that residents and tourists will be able to go and bet on sports in Florida include horse racing tracks, jai alai venues, former greyhound racetracks, and other gaming establishments such as Seminole owned casinos.

The Seminole nation was also granted the ability to open more casinos on tribal land, possibly opening the door to even more future retail sportsbook locations. 

Mobile and online sports betting will also be offered state-wide, so you’ll be able to bet on sports from the comfort of your own home or a local sports bar. 

More details on this subject should be coming in the near future. Currently, the only place people can go to in order to bet on sports in FL is through a cruise ship sportsbook offered by Victory Casino Cruises. Those ships sail out of Port Canaveral and allow bets once in international waters. 

Online Sportsbooks In Florida

As per the agreement between Governor DeSantis and the Seminole tribe, there will only be two online sportsbooks operational throughout the state of Florida. Both options will be treated as skins for the tribe to use. 

One of those online sportsbooks is assumed to be Hard Rock Sportsbook as that is the brand that the Seminole Tribe owns. Hard Rock online sportsbook currently operates in New Jersey and Iowa

The other online sports betting skin will be up for grabs, but it is not yet determined how that company will be chosen. 

Industry experts are estimating that a company such as DraftKings or Fanduel will be in the best position to capture that opportunity, but it’s still too early to know for sure. 

Florida Sports Betting Apps

Once sports betting launches in the Sunshine State, you can bet that Florida sports betting apps will be available. 

Those sports betting apps will be available for download on both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. Those with both iPhone and Android devices should be able to use those devices to bet from anywhere (including the beach). 

Things To Know About Florida Sports Betting

  • The legal sports betting age in Florida is set to be 21+. Anyone who is 21 years or older can bet online and in-person in Florida once sportsbooks go live.
  • Betting on any sport is permitted and this includes in-state college teams. Betting on other international events like the Olympics will also be allowed.
  • There will only be two online sportsbooks in Florida. One will be the Hard Rock sportsbook and the other is yet to be determined. That other sportsbook will need to partner with the Seminole Tribe.  
  • A sports betting regulator has yet to be determined. While the Seminole Tribe will have control over the market, a regulatory agency from the state still has to be decided. 

Florida Sports Betting Timeline

2019: The Tribes End Payments To State

The year marked what was supposed to be the renewal of the tribal gaming compact held between the state and the Seminole Tribe. 

But, complications arose with the tribe taking issue with card rooms offering designated player card games such as blackjack. They claimed this broke the original compact they signed and were unwilling to sign another compact if that continued. 

Some lawmakers saw it as an opportunity to give the tribe sports betting in hopes of providing leverage in negotiations. 

Those hopes were eventually crushed in May, as the deadline to sign a new compact passed and nothing was signed. The tribe officially stopped paying the state for exclusivity for player card games. That was over $350 million gone for the state of FL. 

There were three bills filed in November for the 2020 session. Those bills were FL SB 968, FL SB 970, and FL SB 972

2020: Too Little Too Late For Negotiations

Despite lawmakers’ attempt at getting a head start for sports betting negotiations, none occurred until the beginning of March. The session, however, ended on March 13. 

The bills that were pre-filed failed to gain any traction as the Seminole Tribe was unwilling to negotiate until there were less than two weeks in the session to pass a bill. The opportunity to hold a special session was taken away by COVID-19 shutdowns. 

2021: The State, Seminole Tribe Reach A Deal

Before the legislative session for the year even began, lawmakers pre-filed bills to legalize sports betting. 

The first of those bills was FL SB 392, which aimed to work around the Seminole tribe and legalize sports betting through the Florida Lottery. 

Other bills which similarly aimed to assign the Lottery as the chief regulator of sports betting popped up once the session began in March. With these bills, online sports betting providers would partner with the lottery, and retail locations would be where lottery retailers currently are.

These efforts all proved to be unfruitful as none of them made any real traction with lawmakers. Behind the scenes, Governor DeSantis was working on a new deal with the Seminole Tribe. 

With less than a full week left in the 2021 legislative session, Governor DeSantis and the Seminole tribe signed a new 30-year Tribal Compact that would change the entire gambling landscape of the state.

The Seminole Tribe will have access to the only two online sports betting skins allowed in the state. They will also be able to have retail sportsbooks in their casinos, build additional casinos, and house craps and roulette tables in those establishments.

The other aspect to come of the deal is that racetracks, jai alai venues, and former greyhound racing venues get to have retail sportsbooks as well. Cardrooms can also keep offering games like blackjack. 

But, there is still more to come before Florida sports betting can launch. 

The state legislature will have to pass a bill legitimizing the compact in a special session starting May 17, 2021. After that, the new compact will have to be approved by the U.S. Department of the Interior. That alone could take 90 days. 

The worst-case scenario is that the issue could have to wait to be put on the November 2022 ballot in order to avoid any legal challenges. That would push back a launch until early 2023.