What’s currently the situation with sports betting in various states? Let’s discuss Florida and expand on its particular cases. It would be a great state to host legal sports betting on paper. Its fans are passionate about their teams, and the people are unique in their hobbies. Floridians love a thrill, and few things are more thrilling than betting it all on a big game. Sadly, Florida won’t see legal sports betting until 2023 at the earliest. But when Florida sports betting does become a thing, it is likely to be huge.
How sports betting in Florida became an issue
Gambling on sports is practically an American pastime, but it hasn’t been legal for long. It started recently with a 2018 Supreme Court ruling that removed a longstanding federal prohibition on sports betting. This was a big deal for online betting since that goes beyond the bounds of tribal casinos, where gambling is usually contained. Several states rushed to legalize online gambling when the court took this action.
As these states put forth measures to legalize sports betting, the events of 2020 hit the business in a big way. Online poker became a more prominent player as in-person tournaments shut down, and online slots became a huge casual pastime. This kind of pastime was highly anticipated as people looked forward to the return of the major leagues.
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But it wasn’t as easy as simply passing a law for some states, Florida included. The Sunshine State was eager to pass sports betting measures. In fact, it even got to the point where some platforms had apps ready to go for 2021 sports. Users in Florida could access the Hard Rock app to bet on sports for a few days until things took a turn.
A federal judge put a stop to the agreement Florida had with the Seminole Tribe, deeming it unlawful. According to the judge, Florida’s voters are meant to weigh in on the act before it is put into law. Florida’s lawmakers thought differently and passed the law anyway, and argue that the law doesn’t apply to sports betting, just casinos. So now Floridians must wait until 2023, so the 2022 vote can happen, or until the tribe’s appeal can pass through the federal court.
Right on a technicality
States that have already legalized online gambling and sportsbook apps are getting huge revenue numbers. In the summer, Michigan came onto the scene and matched New Jersey in revenue, despite the fact that Jersey is a gambling powerhouse with Atlantic City. This shows that gambling revenue comes quickly and easily despite the prominence of a state’s gambling scene. Of course, Florida would want to boost its local economy to the tune of millions of dollars.
However, what holds some states back is how the money is divided up. Florida had to make a deal with the Seminole, just as other states worked with their local tribes. For the Seminole’s part, they were to get exclusive control of sports betting in Florida. They also had to make sure all sports betting happened on their land, which would technically happen as all the online servers are located in their territory.
Florida’s government agreed to this idea. The problem, however, is the federal court and the letter of the law. The Seminole are fighting this in court, but Florida might have another option in the meantime. Other sports betting companies are proposing a new amendment that circumvents the Seminole by outright declaring sports betting legal in the state’s constitution.
The money gained from legalized betting is too much to pass up for many states. Florida no doubt wants a piece of that pie, but legal troubles are proving a mighty obstacle.
Photo credit: The feature image has been done by Linus Strandholm.