Tampa will be the site of an epic showdown between Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes this Sunday, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs square off in Super Bowl LV.
However, Florida residents won’t have the ability to get skin in on the game as the state has not legalized sports betting. This leaves Sunshine State bettors wondering where they can go to wager on the game.
Closest retail sports betting options in Mississippi
If you want to walk into a retail sportsbook and place a bet, you’ll need to head to Biloxi, Mississippi, home to several big-name casinos and well-known retail sportsbooks.
The notable sportsbooks include FanDuel Sportsbook at Imperial Palace Casino and the BetMGM sports betting lounge at Beau Rivage Resort & Casino. Other brick-and-mortar options include:
- Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Biloxi
- Palace Casino Resort
- Golden Nugget Biloxi Hotel & Casino
- Harrah’s Gulf Coast
Room rates range from $119 to $209 for a Saturday-to-Monday stay. Hard Rock did not have any available reservations for Sunday night.
Barring traffic, the drive to Biloxi takes about eight hours from Tampa, six and a half hours from Jacksonville, just under eight hours from Orlando, and four and a half hours from Tallahassee.
Online sports betting alive and well in Tennessee
While Mississippi is the closest state for retail sports betting, Tennessee is the nearest location for online sports betting. The state’s top three mobile betting operators are DraftKings, FanDuel and BetMGM.
The top-rated hotels in Chattanooga, the closest city to Florida, start at $87 for a weekend stay.
Chattanooga is about six hours from Tallahassee, seven hours from Jacksonville and eight and a half hours from Tampa.
When will Georgia and Florida join the action?
Hopefully, this will be the last year Floridians have to worry about out-of-state traveling in order to place legal wagers on the Super Bowl.
Sports betting has yet to receive the green light in Florida, as well as in neighboring Georgia. But there are inklings that politicians are committed to making sports wagering legal.
In late December, Georgia Rep. Ron Stephens hinted that sports betting could be a possibility in the state as lawmakers wouldn’t need to create an amendment, and endure a subsequent popular vote, to legalize the industry. Rather, the legislature could tweak existing rules for the Georgia Lottery to allow legal sports wagering.
Also in December, Florida Sen. Jeff Brandes filed a trio of bills that would pave the way for sports betting in the Sunshine State. This past month, the three bills, SB 392, SB 394, and SB 396, were referred to a committee for further review.
Beyond Tallahassee, there isn’t much explicit movement toward sports betting. In December, Hard Rock International announced the launch of an interactive gaming and sports betting platform called Hard Rock Digital. The platform is exclusive to the Hard Rock brand and Seminole Gaming and could be a glimpse into Florida tribal sports betting’s future.