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Legal Florida Sports Betting To Return After Federal Court Win

mobile sports betting on a FL beach with a state map of Florida overlaid

Last Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned a prior ruling that the gaming compact between the state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida was invalid.

Legal sports betting in Florida began in November of 2021, but on December 3rd of that same year, all venues were forced to close down due to a pending legal challenge of the gaming compact between the Seminole Tribe and the state.

This decision has injected new life into Hard Rock Sportsbook in FL, but there’s no timetable on when they’ll start accepting bets again.

Is The Sports Betting Compact A Good Deal For Florida?

The compact grants the Seminoles exclusive rights to host sports betting operations in the state. In exchange, they’ll fork over $500 million annually to Florida.

Half a billion dollars is nothing to scoff at but consider this. New York represents the largest domestic betting population in the United States. In 2022, NY collected just under $700 million in sports betting revenue.

FL has a population of over 22 million people, 3 million more than NY. Now add in the glut of tourists that flock to the state, and it becomes clear that Florida probably needs to cut a better deal with the Seminole Tribe.

Commercial operators like DraftKings and BetMGM have been kept out of the market in the Sunshine State despite a herculean lobbying effort that included several rounds of bulk mailouts and a blitz of television advertisements asking for support.

North Carolina used to feature a similar setup as FL, with only the Cherokee Tribe able to offer in-person sports betting. That changed earlier this year when the NC legislature passed a bill allowing for commercial sports betting to begin, negating the tribal monopoly held in the state.

Could this happen in Florida? Probably not. The compact allows for the Seminoles to host sports betting operations for 30 years.

When Will Sportsbooks Reopen In FL?

Technically, Hard Rock Sportsbooks can begin accepting in-person wagers right now at their casino locations and via mobile sports betting apps that can be downloaded to Apple and Android devices.

The Seminoles are weighing all options before making the next move, including the consideration of a further appeal to the Supreme Court and other potential legal challenges.

This decision has the potential to open the floodgates in other states where tribal interests have not been allowed to provide mobile sports betting services or online sportsbooks.

The prescedent will not only impact states where sports betting is already legal, but it will also change how states attempting to legalize domestic sportsbooks will write their laws. One example is California, where Native American casinos have held up domestic sports betting since PASPA was overturned in 2018.

The Tampa Bay Times

The Miami Herald

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