Florida population

The future of sports betting in Florida still unknown

Amid the legal chaos governing the future of sports betting in Florida, June 2 marks the day the United States Court of Appeals granted the Justice Department’s motion to voluntarily dismiss an appeal to one of the many lawsuits the state faces regarding sports betting in the sunshine state.

Florida Sports Betting History

Sports betting in Florida was officially legalized in May 2021, when the Florida House of Representatives voted to sign a gaming pact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida to bring online sports betting to the state. The pact was a 30-year, $500 million-a-year deal that Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law after going through a special session of the Florida legislature. On November 1, pact content became Florida reality with the launch of the tribe’s app – Hard Rock Sportsbook.

So for a few short weeks in November last year, Floridians were able to place sports bets through Hard Rock. That was until a lawsuit was filed over concerns that Florida’s online sportsbooks violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, at which point the Seminole Tribe was forced to kill its mobile app.

Although there are several ongoing lawsuits, the main one, West Flagler Associates vs. Haaland, who eventually sought to shut down sports betting operations in the state, saw his time in court end with West Flagler winning. They claimed that during the period of a few weeks that sports betting was legal in Florida, it caused financial harm to their business.

An appeal of the courts’ decision has been filed but is still pending before the United States Court of Appeals. This approval or rejection of the appeal will likely depend on the interpretation of Indian gaming regulation law.

If the pact is upheld by the courts, the Hard Rock Sportsbook app would return to the Sunshine State and online sports betting would resume as it did in November. In the event of bankruptcy, the state and the tribe could negotiate a new agreement taking into account the concerns of the suing parties, but that would not happen until the 2023 legislative session.

Other unsuccessful attempts

A group known as Florida Education Champions also lobbied for sports betting in the state through a ballot initiative. With the support of FanDuel and DraftKings, it seemed possible but it quickly fell through. Although the two commercial operators shelled out more than $36 million in a concentrated effort to collect signatures, it wasn’t enough. They missed the 891,589 signature requirement by more than 370,000 signatures. Because they missed their window, that failed measure has now entered the 2024 election cycle – starting over with zero signatures.

Florida Sports Betting Outlook

Legalizing sports betting in Florida would be an extremely lucrative opportunity for the welfare of the state. If not for the sheer size of the state’s population, then for the stacked professional sports teams residing there. Among the big four sports are the Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers, and Tampa Bay Rays.