Florida Sports Betting
After briefly going live for just over month in late 2021, legal sports betting is currently on hold in Florida.
A new compact between the state and the Seminole Tribe had been agreed upon that authorized the tribe to offer both online and retail sports betting. However a legal challenge resulted in a federal judge vacating the compact, and while that ruling is being appealed here in 2022 the future of legal sports betting in Florida remains in limbo.
Here’s an overview of where sports betting stands in the Sunshine State along with information about how it got here and speculation about where it might be headed.
Florida sports betting news
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Is sports betting legal in Florida?
No, legal sports betting is not currently available in Florida.
On Nov. 22, 2021, a District of Columbia federal judge ruled that a newly negotiated 30-year compact between the state and the Seminole Tribe violates the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) by authorizing gambling outside of tribal lands.
West Flagler Associates, the ownership group of a pair of Florida pari-mutuel facilities, had sued Department of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland for not opposing the new compact. The plaintiffs argued that since the IGRA states that any gambling with a tribal entity must be done on tribal land, the agreement violated federal standards by permitting the Seminoles to accept online sports wagers from anyone of legal age throughout the state. Meanwhile the tribe argued their “hub-and-spoke” model whereby the servers processing the bets were located on their land though served customers elsewhere in the state fully complied with IGRA.
Judge Dabney Friedrich ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and vacated the new compact, thereby revoking authorization previously granted by Gov. Ron DeSantis, the state legislature, and the US Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs. The ruling also reverted the terms of the tribal-state agreement back to the old compact that does not authorize sports betting.
At the time of the ruling, the Seminole Tribe had already started accepting online sports bets through their Hard Rock sportsbook app, having launched it on Nov. 1 while the litigation was still pending. However, after the ruling the tribe shut down the sportsbook on Dec. 4.
The Seminole Tribe immediately indicated it would appeal the ruling, and soon after the Department of Interior also filed a notice of its intention to appeal. Both did so, and in late Jan. 2022 the appeals court accepted and consolidated both appeals. Meanwhile the federal government also filed a motion to consolidate the West Flagler suit and a separate suit filed against the DOI by a group of businessmen and anti-gambling activists who also oppose expanding gaming options in Florida, although the latter group objects to combining the two. A ruling on that motion is pending.
All of which is to say, there will be no legal sports betting in Florida at least until the ruling that vacated the new compact is settled in appellate court. If that ruling is upheld, legal sports betting will remain unavailable until proponents can find another way to get it authorized.
Does Florida allow online sports betting?
Florida law and the new tribal compact endeavored to allow the Seminole Tribe to provide online sports betting. However, as noted above a federal judge ruled the compact violates a federal gambling law. For now, then, there is no legal online sports betting in Florida pending appeal.
Florida casinos and sportsbooks: Where to bet on sports
Should the new tribal-state compact be reinstated and the Seminole Tribe be allowed to offer sports betting, they will likely open retail sportsbooks at most or all of their six casinos:
- Seminole Casino Brighton
- Seminole Casino Coconut Creek
- Seminole Casino Hotel Immokalee
- Seminole Classic Casino Hollywood
- Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood
- Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa
The compact had additionally allowed the tribe to create partnerships with pari-mutuel facilities in the state to allow them to open Hard Rock-branded sportsbooks as well. Before the compact was vacated in Nov. 2022, five pari-mutuel facilities had agreed to operate such sportsbooks:
- Hialeah Park Racing & Casino
- Ocala Gainesville Poker & Jai-Alai
- Palm Beach Kennel Club
- Tampa Bay Downs
- TGT Poker & Racebook
As noted, the Seminole Tribe and the rest of Florida currently awaits a federal appeals court ruling to see whether or not the renegotiated compact will be allowed. If it is, we might see retail sportsbooks at all of the locations listed above (and perhaps others). If the appeals fail, it will be back to square one for Florida sports betting, although you can bank on the Seminole casinos again being central to the discussion going forward and the likeliest destinations for future sportsbooks.
Sports teams to bet on in Florida
Florida’s status as the third-most populous state in the country makes it unsurprising to find the state is home to many sports teams. Several professional franchises and universities reside in Florida, and the state’s warm weather makes it a popular destination for championship games and tournaments to boot.
Should sports betting launch in Florida, then, wagering on these teams and events is sure to accelerate. Fandom for teams in an area tends to drive betting on them, with bettors’ close proximity sometimes offering deeper and more meaningful insights about how those teams might perform. 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 most fun ways to add more excitement to the game.
Florida is home to three NFL teams, including the 2021 Super Bowl Champion. They are:
- Jacksonville Jaguars: TIAA Bank Field, 1 TIAA Bank Field Dr, Jacksonville, FL 32202 (Find Jags betting odds)
- Miami Dolphins: Hard Rock Stadium, 347 Don Shula Dr, Miami Gardens, FL 33056 (Find Dolphins betting odds)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Raymond James Stadium, 4201 N Dale Mabry Hwy, Tampa, FL 33607 (Find Bucs betting odds)
Betting on the NFL is pretty straightforward. The relatively high levels of scoring create lots of betting opportunities, including betting NFL spreads, moneylines, and totals. The amount of statistics generated by teams and individual players also opens the door for a wide range of proposition bets and parlays as well as futures bets.
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 many options for betting. Florida is home to two NBA teams:
- Miami Heat: FTX Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33132
- Orlando Magic: Amway Center, 400 W Church St Suite 200, Orlando, FL 32801
Like NFL games, NBA games always have plenty of scoring to serve as fodder for sports betting. You can find every type of wagering imaginable for NBA games, with a wide range of online basketball betting opportunities for both team and individual performances.
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 home to two MLB teams. In fact, half of all MLB teams come to Florida for spring training each year, a gathering dubbed the Grapefruit League. The Florida franchises include:
- Miami Marlins: LoanDepot Park, 501 Marlins Way, Miami, FL 33125
- Tampa Bay Rays: Tropicana Field, 1 Tropicana Dr., St. Petersburg, FL 33705
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. 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. It might come as a surprise, then, to learn not one but two National Hockey League franchises have home ice in the state. In fact, one of them — the Tampa Bay Lightning — is one of the league’s powerhouses. Here are your Florida-based options for betting on the NHL in Florida:
- Florida Panthers: FLA Live Arena, 1 Panther Pkwy, Sunrise, FL 33323
- Tampa Bay Lightning: Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Dr, Tampa, FL 33602
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. They therefore 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 it is less likely to cover the spread.
Collegiate athletic events, particularly football, are a popular vehicle for sports bets in many places. Florida is home to 13 schools that compete in the NCAA’s Division I. They are:
- Bethune-Cookman University
- University of Central FloridaUniversity of Florida
- Florida A&M University
- Florida Atlantic University
- Florida Gulf Coast University
- Florida International University
- Florida State University
- Jacksonville University
- University of Miami
- University of North Florida
- University of South Florida
- Stetson University
Note that should legal sports betting come to Florida, it is not certain as yet whether betting on college sports and/or schools from Florida will be allowed. Some states with legal sports betting prevent wagering on in-state schools. That’s something to be aware of before you get your hopes up about betting on the Hurricanes, Gators, Seminoles or whatever your favorite Florida school might be.
The legal battle over sports betting in Florida
When a US Supreme Court ruling did away with the federal ban on sports betting in 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 gambling-related issue. Not least among these interested parties 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 starting to consider a host of options for sports betting.
Here’s a short timeline of what has happened since then with regard to the ongoing battle to launch sports betting in Florida.
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 wanted to secure its position as the only provider of banked card games in the state. Upset about the proliferation of gambling options offered at pari-mutuel facilities around the state, the tribe said it was willing to pay $500 million per year in exchange for those games’ cessation. Unfortunately for them, Gov. Ron DeSantis would not sign off on the new compact, and the Seminoles responded by pledging to withhold the $350 million in payments to the state. Meanwhile, State Sen. Jeff Brandes filed a trio of bills that would install the Florida Lottery as the main regulatory body in charge of sports betting and leave out the Seminoles. However, none of those bills made it out of committee.
Florida lawmakers did not take kindly to the loss of the tribe’s payments. In fact, some were angry enough to muse about cutting the tribe out of Florida gambling entirely. Sen. Brandes, apparently recognizing an opportunity, refiled 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 prevented Brandes’ bills from enjoying any meaningful progression. As a result, the discussion turned toward negotiating a brand new compact. The new proposal included increased payment to the state from the Seminoles, but it also introduced the possibility of authorizing the tribe the right to offer legal sports betting in the state. Meanwhile the tribe’s desire to stop the pari-mutuels’ games was set aside.
Even though the new compact proposal had plenty of support, as 2021 unfolded it was not clear Florida would be able to make the end-of-session deadline to pass it. However, in the final week before the April 30 session gavel, DeSantis signed the new compact into law. The Legislature then met for a special session in May to vote on the new terms of the deal with the Seminoles. It took 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 moved on to the Department of the Interior for its approval. In a surprising move, the DOI declined to rule one way or the other about the legitimacy of the compact, which practically speaking meant the compact was “considered to have been approved by operation of law to the extent that it complies with IGRA and existing Federal law.”
It appeared as though Florida was on the precipice of entering a new legal sports betting era, and in fact on Nov. 1 the Seminoles launched its brand new Hard Rock Florida Sportsbook app and began accepting wagers. However during the late summer a company owning a pair of pari-mutuel facilities had filed a lawsuit contending the new compact violated the IGRA. On Nov. 22 a federal judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, thereby vacating the new compact. A couple of weeks after that, the Seminoles took their new Hard Rock sports betting app offline.
The year 2022 began with the future of legal sports betting in Florida once more in doubt. The tribe and the DOI have appealed the ruling and now await a decision. Meanwhile efforts to get a new sports betting initiative on the November ballot failed despite significant support and lobbying efforts from DraftKings and FanDuel.
Despite the failure of the sports betting initiative to get on the ballot in 2022, it appears there is growing support for it in the next election cycle. The Havenick family, who owns two pari-mutuels and initiated the first lawsuits against the gaming compact, donated $4 million to Florida Education Champions in mid-April.
Florida Education Champions is the political action committee that spearheaded the signature-gathering efforts for the sports betting ballot initiative. The group received $37.5 million in funding from FanDuel and DraftKings. The Havenick family’s donation marks the first time a major Florida company gave the PAC money. It’s a clear indication that there is growing support for the initiative, while the status of the compact is still in limbo.
What is the status of the new Seminole compact in Florida?
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 electronic bingo and no house-banked games. That means 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.
Back in 2010, the Seminole Tribe and state entered into a 20-year gaming compact under which terms the tribe has operated its casinos. However, that compact invited some antagonism between the parties. One reason was the fact that it contained a provision granting the tribe exclusivity over banked card games through five years. When that provision expired in 2015, the state did not renew it and the tribe responded by suspending payments to the state. Eventually a compromise was reached in 2018, although a year later the tribe would halt payments again until the state stopped non-tribal card rooms from offering games the Seminoles believed they had the exclusive right to offer.
It was amid this fraught climate that Gov. Ron DeSantis negotiated a new compact with the Seminole Tribe in 2021, one that among other changes authorized the tribe to begin offering both retail and online sports betting.
The new compact proposed what has been called a “hub-and-spoke” model to offer online sports betting across the state. The tribe would be the exclusive licensee for online sports betting in the state, thus making it the “hub.” However, the tribe would also be permitted to reach partnership deals with pari-mutuel facilities (i.e., card rooms) around Florida. Each facility would be allowed to offer its sportsbook brand and split the profits with the Seminoles. Thus, each facility would be a “spoke.” Regardless of the branding, all sports bets would process through the Seminoles’ gaming platform. The same model would apply to online sportsbooks as well, with bets being placed anywhere in the state being processed by servers located back on the Seminoles’ lands.
In May 2021, the Florida legislature signed off on the new compact. In August 2021, the US Department of Interior did not approve or disapprove it, which practically speaking meant the new compact was approved by default. On Aug. 11, 2021, the new compact was published in the Federal Register. However, as described above, a federal court ruling in Nov. 2021 vacated the new compact, thereby reverting the Seminole Tribe and Florida back to the previous compact which did not allow sports betting. With that ruling still under appeal, the new Seminole compact is not currently in effect, meaning legal sports betting is not currently available in the state.
Sportsbook apps possibly coming to Florida
If reinstated, the new gaming tribal-state compact would allow the Seminoles to be the sole operators of online sports betting in the Sunshine State, guaranteeing the Seminole Tribe would serve as the funnel for every sports bet placed in Florida, whether online or live.
The compact would also allow the tribe to create partnerships with a limited number of pari-mutuel operators to operate sportsbooks under the Hard Rock banner. Under such agreements, the pari-mutuels would be allowed to keep 60% of the profits generated while sending the rest to the tribe. Meanwhile external sportsbook apps would also have to pay negotiated revenue shares to the Seminole Tribe.
However, a federal ruling found the compact in violation of IGRA. While that ruling is being appealed, there is uncertainty regarding if and when sportsbook apps will be able to launch in Florida. With that caveat in mind, here’s a rundown of some of the potential apps that could show up in Florida.
Hard Rock Sportsbook
Chance of Florida Launch: Very Likely
Online sports betting was actually live in Florida for about a month near the end of 2021, with the Hard Rock Florida Sportsbook the lone app available to bettors. However the Seminole Tribe took the app offline in early Dec. 2021 after a federal judge ruled Florida’s sports betting model was in violation of federal standards.
The tribe took its online sportsbook offline, but the Seminoles and the Hard Rock brand will certainly be prominent in the space if online sports betting ever is allowed to launch in the state. The question is generally whether the tribe will function as an essential monopoly in the online sports betting market or if there will be healthy competition in Florida.
Chance of Florida Launch: Probable
DraftKings already operates in Florida as a daily fantasy sports provider, and its interest in launching a DraftKings Sportsbook is clear to all. Along with FanDuel, DraftKings poured millions of dollars into the state in an effort to get a sports betting initiative on the ballot in November 2022. That effort failed, but DraftKings CEO Jason Robins said he was “very confident” that the issue will be on the 2024 ballot. If a similar initiative were to pass in 2024, it’s nearly guaranteed that DraftKings would be granted a license by state regulators.
Chance of Florida Launch: Probable
FanDuel would almost definitely gain access to the Florida online sports betting market as long as a more free-market approach is taken in shaping the state’s industry. Like its archrival DraftKings, FanDuel has already gained entry to Florida as a DFS provider and has some familiarity with the legal structure and market. Furthermore, FanDuel Sportsbook has thus far nearly equaled DraftKings Sportsbook’s eagerness to open up in new states.
Chance of Florida Launch: Possible
BetMGM Sportsbook is one of the top sports betting apps available today. However, the company does not have a particular link with the state of Florida itself. Its closest property is two states away in Mississippi.
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, which means it certainly has the resources to come to Florida. Additionally, Caesars owns the Isle Casino Pompano Park and is rebranding it to Harrah’s Pompano Beach this fall. If the ballot initiative is passed and non-Seminole entities can operate online sportsbooks in Florida, Caesars sportsbooks checks all the boxes to operate in the state.
Chance of Florida Launch: Possible
Barstool Sports is the sportsbook brand for gambling powerhouse Penn National Gaming which does have a presence in Florida already as the owner of the Sanford Orlando off-track wagering facility in Longwood. Barstool Sports Founder Dave Portnoy did join the failed effort along with DraftKings and FanDuel to get an initiative on the 2022 ballot, thereby indicating the company’s interest in the state.
How to sign up at a Florida online sportsbook
Even if 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 are on a computer web browser or a mobile app. Here’s what to do:
1. Download and install the app
Your first step will be to download and install one of Florida’s sportsbook apps on your device. Choose the sportsbook that appeals to you and 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 make 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.
2. Sign up for an account
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 likely need to provide some or all of the following information:
- Email address
- Phone number
- Mailing address
- Date of birth
- Social Security Number (or the last four digits)
You’ll also need to pick a username, a password, and (potentially) set up 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.
3. Fund your account
Depending on the app you’ve chosen, you’ll either end up in the app’s lobby or 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 will have many methods to deposit funds, including by using a credit card, a debit card, an electronic check, e-wallets such as PayPal, prepaid cards or even cash.
Choose the option that works best for you, and make your first deposit. Again, you might need to enter a promo code here, as some bonuses relate to deposits rather than just signing up.
4. Place your bets!
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 available sports in the left column, featured bets in the center, and a bet slip on the right or bottom. Make your selections by pushing the appropriate button. The bet slip will auto-populate, and if you want to create parlays or make other changes to the bets, you’ll do them in the bet slip.
Florida sportsbook bonuses and promotions
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 offer such incentives to be competitive.
Here are some of the more common types of bonuses you’re likely to find:
- No Deposit: No deposit bonuses award you with site credits or free bets without any deposit in return. For the most part, these bonuses are reserved for new players who receive their freebies for registering for an account. However, you may see a no deposit bonus pop up for everyone from time to time, such as during holidays or in association with other special events.
- Deposit: Deposit bonuses may be the most common type of bonus. They are often called match bonuses or reload bonuses because of how they work. You make a deposit, and the sportsbook matches some or all of your deposit. Although the most generous of these bonuses are usually for new players, all users can generally find some type of deposit bonus available to them at any time.
- Risk-Free: Another type of bonus is the risk-free bet which can be applied to specific bets, specific games, or specific time periods. For every dollar of net loss, the sportsbook will refund your money to you up to a certain maximum. These bonuses are sometimes called cashback or insurance bonuses, but they all mean the same thing — you get your money back if you lose. However, be aware that these bonuses only apply to net losses, not individual ones.
- Odds Boost: The odds boost is so common that it might have its own separate tab and not be listed with the other promotions. As the name implies, an odds boost involves the sportsbook artificially inflating the payout on a certain bet in favor of the player. Usually, the inflation is not large, but it can be a nice sweetener if you already plan to make a similar bet.
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 function like cash 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 point 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. For example, if you are trying to play through a $50 bonus, you might have to wager anywhere from $50 to $2,500 to convert it into withdrawable funds. You don’t have to lose that much, mind you, but you do have to put that much at risk to receive your bonus. Free bets and the credits you receive as a new player usually have the lowest playthrough requirements.
FAQ on Florida sports betting
How old do I have to be to bet on sports in Florida?
The minimum age to bet on sports in Florida will be 21 years old once apps launch and retail sportsbooks open their doors.
Who oversees sports betting in Florida?
When lawmakers voted to legalize sports betting in May 2021, they also created the Florida Gaming Control Commission to serve as the new regulatory body to oversee it.
Is DraftKings legal in Florida?
DraftKings is legal as a daily fantasy sports provider in Florida right now, which means you can participate in DFS contests on the site. However, the DraftKings Sportsbook is not legal in Florida at this time.
Is Barstool Sportsbook legal in Florida?
No, not yet. No online sportsbooks are currently legal in Florida. Should they become legal, it remains to be seen whether Barstool Sportsbook will be among the available options.
Can I bet on the University of Florida?
The particular rules that the Seminole Tribe and others will use for sports betting isn’t known at this time. In states with legal sports betting, in-state collegiate sports have sometimes been the target of various prohibitions. We’re not saying that you will not be allowed to bet on the Gators (or Seminoles or Hurricanes) if and when sports betting comes to Florida, but we don’t know exactly what the parameters will be for betting on college sports in Florida just yet.
How much is the Seminole Tribe of Florida worth?
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.