Sports bets in Florida are currently illegal. However, the legality of placing sports bets within Florida’s borders could change with the outcome of the current court deliberation. While Florida natives await the court case results, no legal sports books or mobile applications have been allowed in the Sunshine State since the end of 2021.

In 2021, a sportsbook operator entered a compact to legalize online mobile sports betting in Florida, and in August 2021. The compact was filed under the state’s Federal Register. Unfortunately, the application was abandoned by the federal court in December 2021. The abandonment of the compact resulted in the Seminole Tribe taking the federal government to court to appeal the decision.

Sports betting

This turn of events means that legal online and offline sports betting may only be legalized in the state once all related lawsuits and appeals processes are completed and a new compact is signed between the state, the Seminole Tribe, and sportsbook operators.

How did Sports Betting Become Illegal in Florida?

In states across America, negotiations for betting operators occur in public hearings. However, nearly all the sports betting negotiations related to Florida took place outside of these public hearings. This resulted in the compact for a sports betting license in Florida requiring the negotiations of an extensive gambling contract between Florida and its Seminole Tribe.

At the beginning of 2021, Governor DeSantis signed into action a new compact in partnership with the tribe, allowing mobile sports betting to take place in the Sunshine State. The compact was approved and legalized by the United States Department of Interior. In August, with the approval from the United States Department of Interior that compact should have been added to the US Federal Register, however, the publishing of the compact was not approved and the deal fell through.

The decision to allow the compact to continue was heavily opposed by local groups, who arranged various legal challenges. The local groups claimed that the compact violated their constitutional amendment rights specifically requiring public voters for the compact to be approved and the compact was not in line with the tribal regulatory Act.

While in court, the judge presiding over the case ruled that the sports betting compact was to be abandoned and called for appeals from the DOI and Seminole tribe. Sports betting has come to a standstill as the legal status in Florida is set to return, but the date still needs to be determined.

How to read live sports betting lines

News of Sports Bets in Florida

  • December 14 β€” Verbal arguments took place over the 2021 gaming compact, some back and forth, and both sides presented their side before the United States Court of Appeals.
  • January 26 β€” Supporters of legal sports betting were disappointed to discover they had to wait for an extended period as no legislative action will be taken until the court situation between the West Flagler Associates and Seminole Tribe is settled.
  • February 17β€” Super Bowl LVII has come and gone without legal sports betting in Florida.
  • February 28 β€” With selection Sunday approaching, Florida residents won’t be able to bet on March Madness and the NCAA tournament legally.
  • March 7 β€” the NFL reinstated Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley after his 1-year suspension for gambling.
  • March 16 β€” Florida Atlantic and Miami, two of Florida’s schools have entered the March Madness tournament. Still, no legal betting is allowed.
  • March 27 β€” Two Florida schools advanced to the Final Four of March Madness.
  • March 30 – DraftKings, the mobile sports book operator, released a new horse racing betting mobile application called β€œDK Horse” to promote the Kentucky Derby. This launch took place in Florida, despite sports betting not being legal in the state. However, betting on horse racing is legal in Florida under the pari-mutuel wager license, which is why DraftKings chose to enter this market. For horse racing enthusiasts, this application allows them to place bets on their favorite races legally and conveniently. The move is indicative of DraftKings’ efforts to diversify its offerings and explore new markets, such as the one in Florida, which could become a lucrative area for horse racing betting (source: https://sportslens.com/florida/)

sports betting

At the beginning of 2023, the status of Florida sports betting remained in a never-ending legal limbo. It is still unclear when the tribal and state issues surrounding the legality of sports betting will be resolved. The lack of progress with the current lawsuit since the appeals stage began likely means that Floridians must wait until the end of 2023 or the beginning of 2024 to see sports betting become legal again.

To make matters worse for the online betting industry, a ballot initiative that FanDual and DraftKings orchestrated didn’t reach the November 2022 general election. Both FanDual and DraftKings conceded defeat at the end of January 2023. However, DraftKings CEO Jason Robins remains confident that the ballot initiative in 2024 will succeed.

Betting on horse racing is the only legal sports betting service that is allowed to operate within the borders of the Sunshine State. This is thanks to part-mutual wagering being authorized for horse racing, quarter-horse racing, harness horse racing, jai alai games, greyhound racing, and cardroom poker games.

If you want to try your hand at betting on horse racing, the most famous racetracks in Florida are,

  • Gulfstream Park
  • Tampa Bay Downs
  • Gulfstream Park West
  • The historic Hialeah Park

Gulfstream Park hosts three essential prep races for the converted Triple Crown races in the Florida Derby, Fountain of Youth Stakes, and Holy Bull Stakes. At the same time, Hialeah Park is known for its quarter-horse racing, which has been operating since 1922.

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