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Is Sports Betting Legal in Florida?
Technically speaking, sports betting is legal in Florida but it does come with some very important notes. First of all, sports betting in the Sunshine State is the result of a compact between the State of Florida and the Seminole tribe. This deal was negotiated behind closed doors and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in April 2021.
In August, the tribal compact received the green light from the US Department of Interior to be formally published in the Federal Register. While this didn’t mean approval, it did mean that regulators could proceed.
According to the compact, the Seminole tribe can launch one sports betting app, available statewide. And so, the Hard Rock Sportsbook mobile sports betting app went live in Florida on November 1, 2021. It wasn’t a festive launch, indicating that the Seminole tribe knew that the regulations weren’t fully in place.
The legality of the app was put into question right away and lawsuits were filed as a result. The main issue was that the app was available throughout the state of Florida for real money sports betting, and not just on Seminole land. As a result, it violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Moreover, it also wasn’t a valid constitutional amendment since it wasn’t put to a vote.
A federal judge ruled that the compact must be paused until the matter is resolved. The mobile app was shut down and Florida sports betting was put on hold. This is where we find ourselves now, without any legal way to bet on sports and with unclear regulations.
Florida Sports Betting Latest Updates: Timeline
With the compact still in question, things are moving quite slow in regards to FL sports betting. You can find the latest updates on the situation right here:
- December 14, 2022 – The Florida sports betting compact finally gets its day in court after the Department of Interior appealed the decision made by the federal judge, Dabney Friedrich. The parties present their oral arguments before three other judges.
- October 28, 2022 – With no decision reached regarding sports betting in FL, the attention turns to the November elections for a faster resolution.
- October 3, 2022 – The Federal Government of the United States argues that it adequately represents the interests of the Seminole tribe while filing its answer on the litigation.
- August 17, 2022 – The Seminole tribe and the Department of Interior file their briefs as they appeal the decision made by the judge in an attempt to reinstate the agreed upon compact.
- July 12, 2022 – The DC Circuit Court schedules the Florida Seminole tribe sports betting decision in early 2023.
FAQs about Sports Betting in Florida
What sports betting apps are legal in Florida?
Right now, there aren’t any legal Florida sports betting mobile apps. While there used to be one, the Hard Rock Sportsbook, it was only live for a bit over a month. It may launch again given a positive outcome in the hearing regarding the FL sports betting compact.
Is there sports betting in Florida?
Legal sports betting options in Florida include horse racing betting and daily fantasy sports. There aren’t any complete sportsbooks in the Sunshine State at this time.
Why is sports betting illegal in Florida?
Due to the lack of a Florida sports betting bill, any real money wagering on the outcome of sporting events is illegal in the state. Once regulations are in place, operators can apply for licenses and then launch sports betting sites within state borders.
Can you use DraftKings in Florida?
Yes, you can access DraftKings in Florida, but only for daily fantasy sports. While the operator also provides sports betting options in other states, these are not legally available in Florida.
Can I use BetMGM in Florida?
No, BetMGM is not available in Florida at this time.
Can I use FanDuel in Florida?
You can use FanDuel to take part in daily fantasy sports contests on the platform. However, you will not be able to access the real money sports betting options in Florida.
When will Sports Betting be Legal in Florida?
Oral arguments for the Florida sports betting compact were presented in December, 2021. It usually takes 2-3 months for the court to reach a decision, but this can be a longer process. So far, it seems that the panel of three judges is split, with two of them being in favor of the compact and one against. However, we will have to wait for the final verdict.
In the best scenario, the Florida Seminole tribe launches sports betting again in just a few months. The app would be available throughout the state and provide a wide range of betting options. Moreover, if the compact regulations remain the same, additional sportsbook operators can go live with the approval of the Seminole tribe.
If this is not the case, and the compact is rejected in court, it can take a while before Floridians have access to sports betting. New regulations would have to go through a public voting process. If residents vote yes, regulators will provide new Florida sports betting legislation. This can take 1-2 years, with even more time needed to license and launch the sportsbooks.
So, the short answer is that it isn’t quite clear when sports betting will be legal in Florida. It can be in a few months or in a few years.
Previous Sports Betting Bills in Florida
There have been several attempts to legalize sports betting in Florida in recent years. Some of the bills were abandoned after the state made it clear that sports betting will be done through a tribal compact.
- SB 2-A – The implementation of the 2021 gaming compact reached between the State of Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida. It includes sports betting, along with additional casino games and contests.
- SB 392 – A bill that proposed to legalize sports betting under the supervision of the Department of the Lottery. Was dropped when the compact became available.
- SB 394 – A bill that outlines the tax rate for revenues resulted from sports betting. It doesn’t apply to the compact and was not implemented.
- HB 1317 – A proposed bill meant to legalize sports betting in Florida with licenses that would require annual renewal. Died in the Regulatory Reform Subcommittee on April 30.
- SB 968 – A Florida sports betting bill that saw to authorize certain persons to bet on sporting events under certain circumstances. It was filed on November 10, 2019 and it died in Innovation, Industry, and Technology on March 14, 2020.
- SB 970 – A rundown of the fees and licenses related to FL sports betting for operators interested in SB 968. It died along with it.
Is Offshore Betting Legal in Florida?
No, offshore betting is not legal in Florida. Offshore sports betting sites are online sportsbooks based in other jurisdictions, outside of the US. This means that they aren’t licensed or regulated in Florida, or in any other US state for that matter. As a result, customers are not protected from fraud and online scams.
According to the Florida sports betting legislation, it is illegal to bet real money on offshore sites. Some credit card providers will even block transactions to certain platforms if these are against local regulations.
We also don’t recommend betting on offshore sites because they present some serious risks. First of all, your funds aren’t properly protected against fraud and the sportsbook can simply opt not to pay withdrawals when requested. Secondly, some betting sites in the past simply disappeared.
Is Daily Fantasy Sports Legal in Florida?
Daily fantasy sports (DFS) are not exactly legal in Florida, but they are available. The state hasn’t regulated daily fantasy sports yet, although there was an attempt to do so in 2021, along with real money sports betting. However, the session ran out of time before the regulations were put into place.
As a result, DFS isn’t actually legal in Florida, but this doesn’t seem to be an issue. Some major operators accept players from the Sunshine State without any problems, while others opt to stay out of the market. For example, Yahoo! Daily Fantasy is not available in Florida, mostly due to a 1991 opinion from the Attorney General that said fantasy sports leagues violate state laws.
Best DFS Apps in Florida
Despite the lack of proper regulations for daily fantasy sports, Floridians have access to the most popular DFS apps in the US. DraftKings and FanDuel currently accept players from the state and provide a wide range of DFS competitions. While some are free, most contests require entry fees.
New users can download the respective apps from the Apple App Store and from the Google Play Store. These are free and easy to install. You will also have to create an account and add funds to balance in order to take part in paid contests. Popular daily fantasy sports events in Florida feature the NFL, NBA, NHL, and other major leagues.
Professional Florida Sports Teams
Sports represent a big part of Florida and there is an impressive variety of options here. As for the professional teams, Florida has several franchises across the major leagues in the US. After all, it is the third most populous state in the nation.
NFL Teams in Florida
There are three NFL teams based in the Sunshine State and this is the league with the longest history here. It is also the most popular for Florida betting, especially when the local teams play.
The Miami Dolphins were the first major league professional sports team in Florida, joining the NFL in 1966. The team had a great run in the 1970s and managed to win two Super Bowl championships, once in 1972 and again in 1973. They hold the record for having a perfect season in the NFL that led to them winning their first Super Bowl.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have also won the Super Bowl twice, but more recent than the Dolphins. They claimed the trophy for the first time in 2002 and then came back for the second one in 2020. However, the team had mediocre results outside of these seasons and currently hold the lowest winning percentage in the NFL, at .404.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are a Florida-based team with a lot of fans, despite not winning any Super Bowl championships. They did have some early success after launching in 1995, going to the playoffs in four consecutive seasons. After that, the team results were quite mediocre. In 2022, the Jaguars again reached the playoffs with a new coach.
NBA Teams in Florida
When Florida sports betting becomes available again, we are sure that many of the bets will be on the NBA. Some of the biggest franchises in the league are based in the Sunshine State.
The Miami Heat remains one of the hottest teams in the NBA after an impressive run in the early 2010s. With the “Big Three” players (LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade), the Heat made it to the NBA Finals in each of the four years they were together. They also won back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013.
The Orlando Magic is the second NBA team that is based in Florida. While it doesn’t have any championship wins, it did make it to the playoffs in 16 out of the 32 seasons played, which is quite impressive.
NHL Teams in Florida
When it comes to the Sunshine State, hockey might not seem like the best fit for sports. The truth is that Florida has a great program for hockey throughout the state and is actually home to two NHL teams. This also means that it has plenty of fans eager to access a Florida sports betting app.
The Tampa Bay Lightning, also known as the Bolts among Floridian fans, are a professional team with three Stanley Cup wins. After winning back-to-back titles in 2020 and in 2021, Tampa Bay also came close to a win in 2022, but lost in the finals to the Colorado Avalanche.
The Florida Panthers haven’t had the same success in the NHL, but they maintain a large following in Florida. The team only made it to the Stanley Cup finals once, in 1996, where they lost to the Colorado Avalanche.
MLB Teams in Florida
While baseball is not as popular in Florida as it is in other states, it remains a top pick for following and betting. There are currently two MLB teams based in Florida.
The Miami Marlins joined the MLB as an expansion team in 1993 and won the World Series for the first time in 1997. They then repeated the achievement in 2003. Both wins came after qualifying for the playoffs as a wild card team.
The Tampa Bay Rays began playing in the MLB in 1998. They didn’t have a great first decade in the league. In 2008, the Rays managed to win their first American League East division championship and their first American League pennant. They won another three AL East titles and one AL pennant since then.
College Sports Teams in Florida
There are 13 schools in Florida that have teams in NCAA Division I leagues for different sports. However, three of them stand out as being powerhouses for college sports in the US. The Florida State Seminoles, the Florida Gators, and the Miami Hurricanes are among the best in the nation.
Moreover, the initial Florida sports betting compact allowed for betting on college sports, with the exception of key personnel. So, while the legislation in some states prevents betting on local teams, this was not an issue for the short window of legal sports betting available in the state.
It remains to be seen if this stays the same or if a new Florida sports betting update would prohibit betting on local college teams. There is definitely plenty of action surrounding the main college sports leagues.
NCAAF Teams in Florida
Seven teams based in Florida compete in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). Another three teams play in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), the second-level Division I NCAAF league. The Florida State Seminoles are by far the most popular, with three national championship wins and 18 conference titles.
The Best NCAAF Teams in Florida are:
- Florida State Seminoles
- Florida Gators
- Miami Hurricanes
- FIU Panthers
- Florida Atlantic Owls
- South Florida Bulls
- UCF Knights
NCAAB Teams in Florida
All 13 Division I sports schools have teams in the NCAAB for both men and women leagues. The Florida Gators stand out here with two NCAA Basketball championships. They were ranked as the best team in the nation during the 2013-2014 season and their 36 straight wins won them the SEC championship.
The best NCAAB Teams in Florida are:
- Florida Gators
- Miami Hurricanes
- Florida State Seminoles
- Jacksonville Dolphins
- FIU Panthers
- Florida A&M Rattlers
- Florida Atlantic Owls
- Florida Gulf Coast Eagles
- North Florida Ospreys
- South Florida Bulls
- Stetson Hatters
- UCF Knights
Other Popular Sports in Florida
As we continue the list of popular sports among Floridians, we also find plenty of other options that would make for great online betting markets. Cross country is big in the Sunshine State, with the Florida Gators team having won the Southeastern Conference three times.
Golf is another popular choice in Florida and the state is home to more than 1,200 courses. That’s more than any other state in the nation and many of them are open to the public, with a green fee tax. Some of the best golf courses are Seminole, TPC Sawgrass, and Streamsong.
Gymnastics is another sport with a long history in Florida, being the first women’s sport available at the University of Florida. The team won the AIAW national championship in 1982 and the NCAA added a gymnastics championship after that.
Soccer is also popular in Florida, especially women’s soccer. Most of the top schools have a soccer team and some players moved up to the US women’s national soccer team, which plays in the Olympic Games.
Other sports worth checking out are tennis, swimming, and volleyball.
Sports Betting History in Florida
While gambling and betting are not part of Florida’s present, they are part of its history, and maybe also its future. Granted, Florida doesn’t have the longest history with sports betting, as we can see in states like California and New York. Still, we can go back almost a century for the first form of FL legislation for sports betting.
In 1931, dog and horse racing became available in Florida. A few years later, in 1935, slots machines also became legal, along with Jai-alai, a sport where players bounce a ball off the wall with a special hand-held wicker.
Slot machines didn’t last long in Florida and the state banned them 1937. This will remain the case for several decades, before the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act from 1988 allowed Native tribes to open casinos with a variety of games.
As for bingo, a popular option among bettors in Florida, the game officially became legal in 1970. The Florida Lottery was only approved in 1986 and it took another two years before it began operations. There are now more than 13,000 lottery stores in the state that offer multiple state-only lottery games and tickets for interstate draws, including Mega Millions and Powerball.
Poker became legal in Florida in 1996, but only at pari-mutuel sites and with a $10 pot limit.
In 2018, the bases for the sports betting compact between the State of Florida and the Seminole tribe were set. Amendment 3 passed during the November election, prohibiting the state from authorizing new casino gambling options. Any expansion in this regard needs to be initiated and approved by voters, making the Seminole a key player in the future of gambling in Florida.
How Florida Sports Betting Laws Compare to Neighboring States
Florida’s direct neighbors are not great alternatives for sports betting, but there are some options in the region for those willing to make a longer drive. With the Hard Rock sports betting app in Florida still offline, this is the only way to legally place wagers.
Alabama tried to legalize sports betting several times in recent years, but didn’t manage to do so. Attempts to bring regulated sports wagering took place in 2019, 2021, and in 2022. However, it seems that there isn’t much demand for it at this time. Alabama only has three tribal casinos and is one of the few states without a lottery.
Georgia is the second state that shares a border with Florida. Unfortunately, sports betting is not available here either. There was a push to legalize wagering in 2022, but it wasn’t successful. Even if an attempt in 2023 results in a new law, it will probably take another year before sportsbooks launch.
Mississippi & Louisiana
While not technically a direct neighbor, Mississippi is about an hour away by car from the Florida border, through Alabama. Add a few more miles to the trip and you will reach one of the casinos that offer sports betting in Mississippi. Keep in mind you can register online but you have to complete the process in a retail location. Moreover, you have to be at a licensed casino to bet on sports in Mississippi.
Increasing the trip by another hour can be better as Louisiana has more sports betting mobile apps available. The state launched its sports betting market in January 2022, with 55 out of the 64 parishes being on board.
Florida Sports Betting Conclusion
In conclusion, sports betting in Florida is not available at this time and its legality is being debated in court. While Floridians had one option for mobile betting throughout the state, provided under the Hard Rock brand, this only lasted a bit over a month.
The State of Florida and the Native American tribe known as the Seminole reached an agreement in 2021 that would allow for online sports betting in the Sunshine State. However, this quickly received legal challenges and a federal judge placed it on hold until the lawsuits conclude.
The mobile app may be available again given a positive outcome, but things are progressing slowly. If the compact is found to be invalid, Florida will have to present and pass new legislation before sports betting could go live again within state borders.