When Will Florida Launch Online Sports Betting?
For many Americans, Florida is the place to go for a great vacation, and it’s home to millions more. But while it has a lot to offer in the area of beach views or theme parks, Florida is somewhat limited when it comes to gambling variety. But, there’s hope. On April 23, 2021, Florida Governor Ron De Santis announced an agreement between the state and the Seminole Tribe that would finally bring sports betting to Florida. Sports betting apps could launch before the end of 2021.
Let’s break down everything you need to know about Florida sports betting so you’re prepared if and when sports wagering is legalized in this state.
Florida Online Sports Betting – Updates
- Apr. 23, 2021: Gov. DeSantis announced an agreement between the state and the Seminole Tribe giving them sole access to a legal sports betting market, including mobile betting apps. A special session of the Florida Senate will be held in May 2021 to approve and finalize the agreement.
- Mar. 2021: Movement on State Senator Jeff Brandes’ Senate Bill 392, listing a potential effective date of October 1, 2021
- Feb. 2021: Bipartisan bills introduced to Florida State Legislature, including House Bill 1317. House Bill 1321, and House Bill 1319 to legalize sports betting in Florida.
Florida Sports Betting: What To Watch
The gambling situation in Florida is complex, and any sports betting legislation that leads to legalization will have to include a compromise between the government and the Seminole Tribe: the Native American tribe that controls most casino gaming in Florida.
In a nutshell, the Seminole Tribe claims that Florida did not enforce the sovereignty of Native Americans by letting “racinos” (race track/casino combinations) conduct a few types of gaming activities. The tribe also believes that, if sports betting was to be legalized, the tribe ought to have exclusive rights to it.
Throughout the spring of 2021, Gov. DeSantis hinted that progress was being made with the Seminole Tribe and that a negotiation was pending. On April 23, 2021, DeSantis announced a draft Florida Gaming Compact, which expanded the Seminole Tribe’s ability to offer gambling in the state. This includes retail and mobile sports betting.
While Sen. Jeff Brandes filed SB 392, which is a bill outlining a plan for sports betting to be regulated by the Florida Lottery, it has not been taken seriously. It’s a shame as well, as the bill suggests a reasonable 15% tax for revenue, plus a suggestion for a relatively low licensure fee of $100,000 per operator.
Ultimately, those interested in Florida legalizing sports betting would do well to pay attention to Sen. Brandes and the Seminole Tribe’s announcements. Now that an agreement has been reached, the issue will be taken up by state lawmakers in a special session of the Florida Senate during May 2021.
History Of Gambling And Sports Betting In Florida
Gambling first came to Florida in the early 1930s, but its development halted largely as a result of the Seminole Native American tribe obtaining almost a full monopoly on gambling activities in the state.
Pari-mutuel dog and horse race betting is legal in Florida at a variety of racetrack locations. Furthermore, Florida residents can find slot machines and other video machines at racinos and racetracks.
However, most gambling can only be found at the Seminole tribe’s reservation casinos. Sports betting is totally illegal at the time of this writing, even on these casinos’ grounds. Florida does provide a state-run lottery and allows for certain charitable activities, such as bingo, under particular rules.
Timeline Of Florida’s Gambling History
- 1931 – Florida approves both horse and dog racing
- 1935 – Jai-alai and slot machine activities are legalized, although slot machines are made illegal in 1937 once again
- 1970 – Bingo comes to Florida
- 1986 – Florida voters approve a state-run lottery, and the lottery begins operations in 1988
- 1988 – The Florida government allows the Seminole tribe to install video lottery machines on any tribal casino facilities
- 1996 – Limited poker is legalized at pari-mutuel racing facilities so long as the pot limit is set to $10
- 2010 – The Seminole tribe receives the exclusive rights to any slot machines outside pari-mutuel racing facilities
- 2020 – Sen. Jeff Brandes files a sports betting legalization bill, but it doesn’t produce any meaningful change or discussion in the legislature
- 2021 – State Reps. Chip LaMarca and Anika Omphroy introduce sports betting legislation including licensing rules
- April 23, 2021 – DeSantis and Seminole Tribe announce an agreement giving the Tribe sole authority to offer sports betting to Florida sports fants.
Florida Sportsbooks – Coming Soon
Although the near future for legal Florida sports betting seems grim, there’s also a chance that it could come sooner rather than later. In the meantime, it’s a good idea for sports betting enthusiasts to check out the best sportsbooks in the industry and know which one they should download if and when sports betting is finally legalized.
DraftKings is arguably the most well-known sportsbook operator in the US, and it’ll likely pursue licensure in Florida when possible. It has a fantastic mobile app and betting platform, which also allows for live streaming and in-play or live betting for your favorite sports matches.
The mobile app is very easy to navigate and the app overall comes with very deep betting pools for most major US sports leagues, as well as collegiate sports (should any future Florida sports betting legislation allow for this wagering). It even includes betting markets for activities like eSports, which sets it apart from many competitors.
A generous opening bonus worth up to $1000 or more is included to sweeten the deal for new players.
FanDuel is also a great choice if you want a well-designed sportsbook platform to wager on your favorite sports matches or teams. It offers a streamlined mobile app that includes live streaming and in-play betting, plus varied and deep betting markets for most major sports activities.
The opening bonus is easy to take advantage of and is worth up to $1000 as a risk-free bet. FanDuel regularly provides new promotional opportunities and special wagers revolving around distinct seasons or game days.
BetRivers is younger than many other major operators in the industry, but this just means it’s more modern and well-suited to the mobile platform. Indeed, this specialized app was designed for use with mobile phones and tablets instead of desktop computers, so it runs smoothly on practically any mobile device.
BetRivers also has live streaming and in-play betting, player-friendly odds, and excellent promotions. Just keep in mind that it doesn’t have the best betting markets for international or foreign leagues.
BetMGM is a well-rounded and thoroughly developed mobile sportsbook. It includes good betting markets for American and international sports leagues, as well as a decent live streaming service that only occasionally suffers from minor lag.
The mobile app overall lets you place live or in-play wagers and it has a fantastic rewards program. This will be especially valuable if Florida ever legalizes online casino wagering since the rewards program is used for the entire BetMGM gaming company.
William Hill primarily operates in Europe, but this just means it’ll be a great mobile sportsbook for Florida residents who like to place wagers on international or foreign sports, such as cricket or soccer. Naturally, it also has good betting markets for American leagues, including the NFL, NBA, and MLB.
The mobile app is quite easy to navigate and doesn’t feature a lot of unnecessary clutter. It also has an opening bonus worth up to $500 and regular game-day promotions.
Florida Sports Betting FAQs
Yes. The Seminole Native American tribe operates a handful of casinos throughout the state. These are the only legal gambling locations aside from pari-mutuel racetracks.
You must be 21 years of age or older to place any wagers at the Native American casinos.
You can only place online horse or dog racing bets in Florida. You can do this using horseracing apps like TVG.
Yes. The Florida state lottery has been running for several decades and is one of the state’s most popular gaming activities for its residents. However, you can’t play the lottery online and must visit a physical ticketing location to participate.
All Florida casinos are owned by the Seminole Native American tribe, with the sole exception of a few cruises that depart from the Florida coastline and head into international waters to avoid legal issues.