Florida sports betting is in full swing. And this time, it looks like it will be sticking around for a while.
The Seminole Tribe hosted a celebration at its flagship Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood on Thursday. The party was to mark the expansion of Florida gaming. Thanks to winning a legal battle over the 2021 Florida gaming compact, Seminole-owned casinos could start offering retail sports betting, craps and roulette.
It’s an exciting time with Florida officially rejoining the sports betting landscape. With a population of nearly 22 million, the Sunshine State is the third-largest in the country. Furthermore, it’s full of people itching to bet on sports.
As a result, Seminole Gaming CEO and Hard Rock International Chairman Jim Allen believes it won’t take long for Florida to compete with or top New York, the largest market in the country.
Hard Rock CEO thinks Florida will become a top 5 sports betting market
Florida online sports betting became legal through the state’s 2021 gaming compacts signed with the Seminole Tribe. Once the deal was passed in the state legislature, the ownership group of two Florida pari-mutuels filed several lawsuits.
The tribe’s online sportsbook was initially launched in the state in November 2021. But a U.S. District Court judge ruled in favor of the pari-mutuels, forcing the tribe to cease operations just a few weeks later.
However, thanks to recent decisions from the D.C. Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court, the tribe can relaunch its online sportsbook.
In an interview with CNBC’s Last Call, Allen spoke about Hard Rock’s relaunch into Florida online sports betting. When asked about the market’s potential, he said the Florida gambling market could surpass what’s happening in larger markets like New York, which is the US’s No. 1 sports betting market.
“What’s unique about Florida is it is a state with 22 million people. But more importantly, the tax rate is much more competitive here,” said Allen. The tax rate in New York is over 50%. And frankly companies like ours, we didn’t even pursue it. Because at a 50% tax rate, you honestly can not make money.”
In November, New York sports betting operators took in $2.1 billion in wagers, the state’s highest monthly handle ever recorded. Those wagers generated $76.9 million in tax revenue. It will likely take some time before the Florida sports betting market approaches those numbers.
The new compact requires the Seminole Tribe to return 13.75% of revenue from sports betting apps to the state. The tribe will also give the state 10% of revenue generated from retail sportsbooks.
Estimates show that Florida bettors could wager around $8 billion to $12 billion yearly once the market matures. Those bets could become as much as $1 billion in annual revenue for the tribe and its partners. Based on the agreement, the state could be in line to collect about $125 million per year from sports betting.
Florida online casinos could boost revenue even more
While most of the attention in Florida right now is on sports betting, it’s never too early to find out what the landscape could look like if legal Florida online casinos become a reality.
Allen was asked about $1 billion to $3 billion revenue projections sports betting could bring to Florida. However, he did mention that Florida online casinos could be a welcomed addition.
“Certainly those numbers we have seen. I think when you have the conversation, you have to look at solely sports betting, which is the scope that we now legally have to offer to the general public,” said Allen. “But certainly, that number gets significantly higher if iGaming is eventually approved in the future.”
Allen says the potential future of Florida online casinos will look similar to what the landscape looks like in other states where iGaming is legal. He says the goal is to work directly with state leaders as well as with online casino operators to make Florida online casinos a realistic possibility.