Still No Launch Date Announced for Florida Sports BettingFlorida
The long-awaited legalization of sports betting in Florida begins this Friday, October 15. However, when that day comes, sports bettors won’t have anywhere to place legal wagers in the Sunshine State.
Seminole Gaming has yet to announce an official launch date for sports betting in Florida, and there’s a lot that’s still up in the air — including two federal lawsuits that could push the launch back even further.
It’s a complicated issue, and one that could affect sports betting operators, Florida tribes and sports bettors for quite a while still.
The Law as It Was Passed
The state of Florida created an agreement with the Seminole tribe that will see all sports betting wagers go through the tribe. The compact allows the tribe to partner with a minimum of three separate pari-mutuel facilities, which could then subcontract their sportsbooks to private operators.
This would allow, for example, a race track in Florida to partner with FanDuel, DraftKings, William Hill or any of the other major sportsbook operators — as is the case in many other states such as New Jersey that have legalized sports wagering.
The one extra nuance to the Florida sports wagering law is that all mobile sports wagers have to go through a server that’s placed on lands owned by the Seminole tribe. The tribe would receive a cut of all sports wagers placed at a land-based sportsbook or on mobile devices.
While it’s certainly an interesting way of approaching legalizing sports betting, it appeared to have worked for Florida and the Seminole tribe. There were 27 companies that responded to the tribes’ Request for Information that was sent out to gauge interest from operators.
The problem, though, is that not all interested parties agreed with the compact, and they’re challenging it in court.
The Legal Challenges
In July, the same month that the state approved the sports betting compact with the Seminole Tribe, two pari-mutuel facilities filed a federal lawsuit against the state’s governor, Ron DeSantis.
The owners of the Bonita Springs Poker Room and the Magic City Casino both contend that the gaming compact is in violation of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Oral arguments in that case will be held on November 5.
That’s not the only legal challenge, though. On September 27, two businessmen in South Florida filed a federal lawsuit that said the U.S. Department of Interior allowed Florida to bypass its own state constitution when it approved the sports betting compact in July.
The businessmen claim voters had to approve any changes to the state constitution in regards to any gambling activity. Both of the men at the head of this lawsuit are opposed to Florida expanding its gambling offerings in any way.
They are alleging in their suit that the compact gives the Seminole Tribe a monopoly over sports betting in the state, as well as future options to build additional casinos and expand their gaming offerings.
The two federal lawsuits aren’t prohibiting the Seminole tribe from opening land-based sports betting operations as of yet. It’s possible, though, that the tribe is waiting for the results of at least the November 5 oral arguments in the first case to decide where to go from here.
Again, Seminole Gaming hasn’t indicated when it officially plans to launch sports betting in Florida. However, in a footnote of the lawsuit with Magic City, the tribe did say it wouldn’t launch sports betting in Florida until November 15, at the very earliest.
That means it’ll likely be at least another month before Florida sports bettors will be able to place legal wagers in the state.