Legal sports betting is on hold in Florida.
On Nov. 22, a judge in the District of Columbia ruled that the new compact between the state and the Seminole Tribe of Florida violates a federal law known as the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) by authorizing gambling outside of tribal lands. The court invalidated the compact, revoking the authorization previously granted by Gov. Ron DeSantis, the state legislature, and the US Department of Interior.
What that means for the future of Florida sports betting is anyone’s guess for now. Appeals are likely already in the works as this page is updated.
The Seminole have been taking online sports bets through their Hard Rock platform since Nov. 1, while this litigation was pending.
Updated: November 2021
The future of legal sports betting in Florida is very much in question after a recent federal court decision.
Judge Dabney Friedrich vacated the compact between the state and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, ruling that statewide online sports betting is not authorized by IGRA. The lawsuit, West Flagler Associates vs. Haaland, argued successfully that only resident voters have the power to authorize gambling outside of Florida’s tribal lands.
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No, sports betting is not currently legal in Florida. The Seminole Tribe was for a time offering a legal product under the Hard Rock sportsbook brand before a federal judge vacated the enabling compact with the state.
Florida law and the new tribal compact endeavored to allow online sports betting online via the Seminole Tribe, but a judge recently ruled that the compact violates a federal gambling law. For now, there is no legal online sports betting in Florida pending appeal.
The new compact guaranteed that the Seminole will serve as the funnel for every sports bet placed in Florida, whether online or live. Pari-mutuel operators will have to surrender 60% of their revenue to the tribe, and any external sportsbook apps will have to pay negotiated revenue shares to the tribe.
Here’s a rundown on the different apps that could show up in Florida.
Chance of Florida Launch: Active
Hard Rock is live in Florida with a sports betting app, despite the recent court decision that its operations violate federal law. Hard Rock International is owned lock, stock and barrel by the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The largest casinos in the state are branded as Hard Rock locations. There is no doubt that the Seminoles will debut their home brand as the primary sports betting app in the state. Furthermore, the Hard Rock Sportsbook platform will serve as the basis for any pari-mutuels’ sportsbook apps that launch.
Chance of Florida Launch: Probable
DraftKings Sportsbook is likely to launch for a few reasons. For one thing, DraftKings has been one of the first online sportsbook apps to launch in almost every new sports betting state in the country. It has reliably gotten its foot in the door everywhere, including in some states where no or very few other apps can operate, such as New Hampshire and Connecticut. DraftKings is also already active in Florida as a daily fantasy sports provider, so its brand recognition should overcome the usurious revenue share it will likely have to pay the Seminoles to operate.
Chance of Florida Launch: Probable
FanDuel is the other external sportsbook app that will probably be a part of the Florida landscape at some point. Like its archrival DraftKings, FanDuel has already gained entry to the Sunshine State as a DFS provider and has some familiarity with the legal structure and market. Furthermore, FanDuel Sportsbook has almost equaled its nemesis regarding its aggression for opening up in new states. So, assuming that it can reach a deal with the tribe, FanDuel will probably have sports betting in Florida, too.
Chance of Florida Launch: Possible
BetMGM Sportsbook is one of the top sports betting apps available today. BetMGM has pursued an energetic and ambitious expansion plan in many new sports betting states with its corporate parentage and pedigree. However, the company does not have a particular link with the state of Florida itself. Its closest property is two states away in Mississippi. So, it remains to be seen if MGM decides to accept the terms it will receive from the Seminoles.
Chance of Florida Launch: Possible
Caesars Sportsbook is a large sports betting company that recently acquired a host of new betting shops to acquire venerable sportsbook William Hill. So, it certainly has the resources to come to Florida. However, like rival BetMGM, Caesars does not have any particular ties to Florida — its nearest properties are in Mississippi and North Carolina — and it might find the going rates that the Seminoles demand too exorbitant to be worth the expansion.
Chance of Florida Launch: Doubtful
Barstool Sports is the sportsbook brand for gambling powerhouse Penn National Gaming. Penn National is not quite on the level of an MGM or Caesars in terms of size, but it is nonetheless a very large gaming company. Furthermore, unlike those two companies, Penn National does have a presence in Florida already — it is the owner of the Sanford Orlando Off-Track Wagering facility in Longwood. However, the legal situation with regard to pari-mutuel locations and how much revenue it must surrender could complicate the question for Penn. So, we’d have to estimate Barstool to be less likely to show up in the Sunshine State.
Although online sports betting is not underway in Florida yet, we are confident about the steps you will have to take to play once the first sportsbook app launches. Although there are a few stylistic differences, every single online sportsbook follows the same procedure for registration. This process is generally the same whether you or on a computer web browser or a mobile app. So, here’s what you’ll do:
The first step is probably the most obvious. You have to download and install one of Florida’s sportsbook apps on your device. So, scroll up to our links above and choose the sportsbook that appeals to you. Make sure to note if there are any Florida sportsbook bonus codes available and write them down. Be accurate when you do this, though. Both spelling and capitalization are important for bonus codes.
Once you click on the link of your choice, you’ll see buttons for both major types of devices — Apple and Android. Press the button for the correct format for your device, and you’ll end up in a familiar place. The resulting download page should look no different from the ones you find for other apps at the Apple Store or Google Play Store.
Open the app and look for a prominently displayed button at the top of the homepage. It’s usually in the upper-right corner and says something like “register,” “sign up,” or “get started.” Occasionally, you might have to click the button to log in to see the option for new players. Regardless, press the link or button to go to the registration form. You’ll need to provide the following information:
You’ll also need to pick a username, password, and (potentially) a couple of security questions and answers. Finally, there should be an optional blank for your promo code. Make sure you enter it exactly as it appears on this site, or it won’t count. Then, hit the button at the bottom to submit the information to the app.
Now, depending on the app you’ve chosen, you’ll either end up in the app’s lobby or directly in the cashier. If you’re in the lobby, look for the cashier button in the same area as the registration button. Once you’re in the cashier, you’ll find several different options for funding your account. Typically, you can use the following: a credit card, debit card, electronic check, e-wallets such as PayPal, prepaid cards or even cash.
Choose the option that works best for your financial situation, and make your first deposit. Again, you might want to enter a promo code here, as some relate to deposits, rather than signing up.
And you’re ready to go! Once you deposit, you should be taken back to the app’s lobby automatically. There, you should find a list of all the sports onsite in the left column, featured bets in the center, and the betslip on the right. Make your selections by pushing the appropriate button. The betslip will auto-populate, and if you want to do parlays or other changes to the bets, you’ll do them in the betslip.
One of the biggest differences between online and live sports betting is the presence of bonuses and promotions on apps. Because you (usually) have several choices for what app to use at any given moment, sportsbooks have to dangle a few sweeteners in front of you to draw your attention and keep you happy. It may sound a bit childish, but free cash is free cash.
Now, it’s important to note that while Hard Rock will have promos for Floridians, don’t expect them to be as generous as in more competitive markets — at least, at first. It may take some time and some other sports betting apps’ launches to spur any major offers. However, there will be something, no matter what. After all, they do want you to play. So, here are some of the more common types of bonuses:
There are a couple of things to mention about these bonuses. The first is that they rarely payout in straight cash. As we mentioned, with no deposit bonuses, you are more likely to be compensated in site credits or free bets. Site credits act like dollars but cannot be withdrawn. Free bets are vouchers for a wager of a certain value, and they must be used in their entirety on a single bet.
The other thing to note is that site credits often come with a playthrough requirement. In essence, you will have to bet a certain amount of money in order to release the credits as actual cash. The amount you have to bet varies, but it is always a multiple of the amount of bonus credits you’re trying to release. So, to illustrate, if you are trying to play through a $50 bonus, you might have to wager anywhere from $50 to $2500 to convert it into withdrawable funds. Now, you don’t have to lose that much, mind you, but you do have to put it at risk. Free bets and the credits you receive as a new player usually have the lowest playthrough requirements.
Anyone over the age of 21 will be able to bet on sports in Florida once apps launch and the retail sites open their doors.
For now, the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering. This government agency has oversight authority over almost all of the gaming in the state and will manage sports betting, too. However, lawmakers have recently created the Florida Gaming Control Commission, superseding the pari-mutuel agency’s oversight authority by mid-2022.
DraftKings is legal as a DFS provider in Florida right now. However, its ultimate status as a sportsbook operator remains unclear.
Not yet. Any external sportsbooks will have to negotiate deals with the Seminole Tribe in order to offer sports betting to Floridians. We don’t know if or when Barstool or Penn National Gaming will begin those discussions.
The particular ruleset that the Seminoles and others will use isn’t known at this time, and in-state collegiate sports are often the target of various prohibitions when sports betting begins. So, we’re not saying that you cannot bet on the Gators (or Seminoles or Hurricanes), but we don’t know exactly what or how you can bet on collegiate athletics in Florida yet.
At least $12 billion. A November 2016 article from Forbes pegs the tribe’s combined worth at $12 billion, and it likely has become much more than that in the years since then. A more recent article states that the tribe enjoys revenues north of $850 million each year, good enough for every tribe member to receive $128,000 annually. The Seminoles are unequivocally one of the wealthiest Native American tribes in the US.
The only casinos that we’re fairly certain will have retail sports betting operations are the six properties owned and operated by the Seminoles. They are:
Some of the pari-mutuel facilities in the state are likely to have live sports betting, too. Of course, they’ll have to work out deals with the Seminoles, but some of them will decide that it’s worth it. Our best bet is that some larger facilities, like Gulfstream Park and Tampa Downs, will make the leap.
Florida’s status as the third-most populous state in the country guarantees that it will always be home to a preponderance of sports teams. Several major franchises and universities reside in the Sunshine State, and the state’s warm weather makes it a popular destination for championship games and tournaments to boot.
Now that sports betting is on the way to Florida, wagering on these teams and events is sure to accelerate. For one thing, fandom for teams in an area tends to drive betting on them. For another thing, bettors’ proximity can often lead to deeper and more meaningful insights about how those teams might perform. So, here are all the different teams you can expect to bet once Florida sports betting gets off the ground.
The NFL season is the sports betting equivalent of the Christmas holidays for retail stores. No other time of year features more wagering, and no other event draws more action than the Super Bowl. Betting on the Super Bowl is one of the funnest ways to add more excitement to the game.
Florida is home to three NFL teams, including the 2021 Super Bowl Champion. They are:
Betting on the NFL is pretty straightforward. The relatively high levels of scoring in each game lend themselves well to oddsmakers, who can set the NFL spreads, moneylines, and totals with ease. The amount of statistics generated by teams and individual players also opens the door for a wide range of propositions, futures, and parlays.
Next to the NFL, betting on NBA games is the most common form of wagering. The NBA season is roughly six months long and features 30 teams playing 82 games each, so there are always options for betting. Florida is home to two NBA teams.
Like NFL games, NBA games always have plenty of scoring to serve as fodder for sports betting. In fact, a basketball game is more reliable to have many points scored than a football game. So, you can find every type of wagering imaginable for NBA games. There are a host of online basketball betting opportunities for both team and individual statistics.
Baseball retains its moniker as “America’s Pastime” to this day, and Major League Baseball represents the highest level of play for the sport, both in the US and the world. Florida is no stranger to the MLB, with two teams calling the Sunshine State home. In addition, half of all baseball teams come to Florida for spring training each year — a gathering dubbed the Grapefruit League. The following teams play host to the visitors from the eastern portion of the country.
Baseball’s structure presents unique challenges for sportsbooks. The dearth of scoring and close margins of victory do not yield easy bookmaking, particularly regarding MLB point spreads. So, instead, oddsmakers use a hybrid wager called the “run line,” which fixes the spread at 1.5 runs for every game but varies the payout ratios according to the estimated outcome. The run line is best described as a mixture of the traditional spread and moneyline wagers.
To put it mildly, Florida is not a state known for its cold weather and icy conditions. So, it might come as a surprise that two National Hockey League franchises lace up their skates in the Sunshine State. In fact, one of them — the Tampa Bay Lightning — is one of the league’s powerhouses. So, here are your Florida-based options for betting on the NHL in Florida:
Like baseball games, hockey games are usually not a high-scoring affairs. The frequency of games decided by one goal (or less, in case of shootouts) creates headaches for oddsmakers trying to set point spread estimates. So, they use the “puck line,” which is analogous in every way to baseball’s run line. A standard 1.5 goal line works for every game, and the variation happens with the payout ratios.
However, to mention these two hybrid wagers, the “favorite” in the game may not come with the “favorite” payout. A team might be favored to win according to the 1.5-goal/run spread, but the book might set that outcome as a positive payout, meaning that it’s the underdog. In other words, the team might win but is less likely to cover the spread.
Collegiate athletic events, particularly football, are a popular vehicle for sports bets in many places. Naturally, since Florida is home to 13 schools that compete in the NCAA’s Division I, there is a great deal of interest from bettors in the Sunshine State about wagering on these schools. They are:
Now, the one thing to know about collegiate sports and sports betting is that in-state universities and events are often the target of regulatory rules promulgated by each state’s gambling commission or lawmakers. Lawmakers often mandate that various types of wagers on in-state schools, athletes, or events are forbidden. A few states ban wagering on college activities outright. It’s not certain if Florida regulators will make any restrictions like this. Still, you should be aware of the possibility before you get your hopes up about betting on the Hurricanes, Gators, Seminoles, or whatever your favorite school might be.
Although sports betting has been spreading across America since 2018, Florida was not in a rush to get on board initially. Like other large states, Florida has several different stakeholders with a seat at the table when it comes to almost any issue — not least of which are the voters, who overwhelmingly approved a measure in 2018 that made any gambling expansions the responsibility of the citizens themselves. However, through a series of events in 2019, lawmakers found themselves considering a host of options for sports betting. Here’s what happened:
Under the terms of its previous compact with the state, the Seminole Tribe of Florida had been making payments of $350 million to the state government every year. However, with the compact terms ending, the tribe wants to secure its position as the only purveyor of banked card games in the state. The tribe has rankled under the proliferation of gambling options offered at pari-mutuel facilities around the state and is willing to pay $500 million per year in exchange for those games’ cessation. Unfortunately, Gov. Ron DeSantis does not sign off on the new compact. The Seminoles responded by pledging to withhold the $350 million in payments to the state. Meanwhile, State Sen. Jeff Brandes files a trio of bills that install the Florida Lottery as the main body in charge of sports betting and leave out the Seminoles. However, the bills die unceremoniously in committee.
Florida lawmakers do not take kindly to the loss of the tribe’s payments. Their anger is fierce enough for several to muse about cutting the tribe out of Florida gambling entirely. Brandes, apparently smelling an opportunity, refiles updated versions of his three bills from the previous year. However, as was the case in 2019, political pressure from the Seminoles on other members of the Florida Legislature kills Brandes’ bills from any meaningful progression. Thus, the discussion takes a turn to a new compact. The new proposal includes increased payment from the Seminoles but instead places them as the host for sports betting in the state. The tribe’s push to remove games from the pari-mutuels is no longer part of the discussion.
Even though the new compact proposal has plenty of support, it’s still not clear that Florida will make the end-of-session deadline on passing it. However, in the final week before the April 30 session gavel, DeSantis signs the new compact into law. The Legislature must now meet for a special session in May to vote on the new terms of the deal with the Seminoles. However, it takes both chambers of the legislative body only two days to tweak the compact and pass it back to the governor. With DeSantis’ signature, the compact passes to the Department of the Interior for its approval. In a surprising move, the DOI declines to rule one way or the other about the legitimacy of the compact, thus setting the stage for sports betting to proceed. If not for the aforementioned legal struggles, Florida would be a sports betting state sometime in October 2021.
The Seminole Tribe of Florida is one of two federally recognized Native American tribes in the State of Florida. The other is the Miccosukee Tribe of Florida. However, the Seminoles are the only tribe of the two with a gaming compact in place with the state. The Miccosukees have contented themselves with operating a Class II facility, with slots and bingo, on their reservation lands. So, the only full-service casinos in Florida are the six Seminole properties scattered around the state. Because those six casinos have been so successful, the Seminoles have gained an immense amount of political power in Florida. Thus, the new compact proposal is extremely favorable to the tribe. Here’s how it works.
The proposed model has been nicknamed the “hub and spoke” due to its structure. Florida’s Seminole Tribe is the exclusive licensee for online sports betting in the state. Thus, the tribe is the “hub.” However, the tribe is also permitted to reach partnership deals with the pari-mutuel facilities around Florida. Each facility is allowed to offer its sportsbook brand and split the profits with the Seminoles. So, each facility is a “spoke.” No matter what the branding is, though, all sports bets will process through the Seminoles’ gaming platform. So, every sportsbook in Florida will bear some resemblance to the products you see with Hard Rock Sportsbook.
Now, as we have mentioned repeatedly, this compact is under heavy legal scrutiny right now. Two different groups have filed suit against the state and allege that this new proposal violates several state and federal laws. At best, several months of court battles remain before the compact becomes the law of the land.