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Florida Sports Betting Currently Paused; What’s Next in Line for the Sunshine State in 2023?

Florida sports betting vanished just as soon as it appeared. After several court decisions against the legitimacy of sports betting in Florida, Hard Rock withdrew its sportsbook app in December 2021.

The app was operational for just a month. The 2021 Florida gaming agreement was revoked by a court judgment, which the Seminole Tribe is presently fighting. However, because the appeals procedure is taking so long, it is doubtful that Florida would allow online sports betting again until 2025.

FanDuel and DraftKings conceded defeat on a ballot initiative that would have legalized broad online sports betting in the interim. There are currently no other projects under development. It’s a shame because legalized sports betting can bring a lot of tax revenue to the state and has worked wonders for the states that went with it. Just look at New Jersey, its online casino revenue jumped up a massive 25.7% as compared to last 2021. Hopefully, Florida’s players will be able to enjoy sports betting sooner rather than later.

If you want to check the timeline of events and what we may anticipate going forward, keep on reading.

Florida’s Sports Betting Timeline

May 14, 2018. SCOTUS strikes down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). Sports betting was made legal and regulated by individual states.

November 6, 2018. Voters approve Amendment 3, thereby forbidding the Florida Legislature from adopting any gaming expansions without the consent of the Seminole Tribe.

May 2019: Sen. Wilton Simpson and the Seminole Tribe strike a deal, but Gov. DeSantis declines to approve it. The agreement would have permitted sports betting at tribal casinos and racetracks.

May 25, 2021. Governor DeSantis signs a new tribal agreement. The deal would let the Seminole Tribe add more games to its collection and provide both retail and online sports betting. Additionally, pari-mutuel venues would be allowed to provide internet betting using servers situated on tribal territories.

August 6, 2021. Florida’s agreement with the Seminole Tribe is approved after a 45-day waiting period. Florida is given the go-ahead to proceed with its anticipated October 15, 2021 debut date by the U.S. Department of Interior, which neither approves nor disapproves the Seminole-Florida Gaming Compact.

September and October 2021: Three lawsuits by casinos are filed against the validity of Seminole Tribe Compact approval.

Nov. 1, 2021: Despite at least two cases against the state’s model of legal sports betting still making their way through federal court, the Seminole Tribe of Florida launches an “early access launch” of its Hard Rock Sportsbook. A district judge dismissed one of the lawsuits.

On November 22, 2021, Judge Dabney Friedrich strikes down Florida’s sports betting agreement, putting a stop to both the Seminole Tribe’s intentions to expand its casino operations and legalized sports betting.

Dec. 4, 2021: 35 days after opening, the Hard Rock Sportsbook accepts an offer to “temporarily cease” all Florida-based activities.

April 2022. Calvin Ridley, a wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons, will miss the whole 2022 NFL season after placing bets on NFL games at Florida’s Hard Rock Sportsbook in 2021.

April 27, 2022. The Florida Seminole tribe ceases paying Florida revenue-sharing. The 2021 Florida-Seminole Compact is on hold, therefore the tribe will make escrow payments instead up until the case is finished.

On June 1, 2022, the Caesars Racebook app is launched in Florida and Ohio by Caesars and NYRA Bets.

On July 11, 2022, the D.C. Circuit issues a briefing schedule for the Florida tribe sports betting compact case, indicating that a decision won’t come until sometime in 2023.

The Faith of the Hard Rock Sportsbook App

In Florida, the Hard Rock Sportsbook has pressed the pause button. The Seminole Tribe will now have to defend their gaming compact or come to a new arrangement with the state after their emergency petition for stay was denied. But doing so without getting voter consent will result in further legal disputes.

Unfortunately, Florida Education Champions’ attempt to put online sports betting on the November 2022 ballot was unsuccessful since they were unable to gather enough signatures by the deadline of February 1, 2022. FanDuel and DraftKings won’t be available in Florida until at least 2025.

Florida’s legalization of sports betting has always been a disaster. The federal court quickly found that the new deal, which gave the Seminole Tribe full control of sports betting in the Sunshine State, violated the Indian Regulatory Gaming Act. The tribe’s Hard Rock Sportsbook app was quietly opened in early November (IRGA).

After a Washington, D.C. appeals court rejected the tribe’s request for a temporary stay pending appeal, it announced on December 4 that it was “temporarily” stopping operations. 

Despite ongoing legal challenges that questioned whether the deal broke Florida law and the Indian Regulatory Gaming Act (IRGA), the tribe had already released the Hard Rock Sportsbook app at the beginning of November.

What the Future Holds for Florida’s Sports Betting Market

Legislative approval and publication in the Federal Register of Florida sports betting are now in limbo because of lawsuits. However, two more key issues make the Hard Rock online sportsbook’s debut in the Florida market difficult.

First, in 2018, state voters in Florida adopted a constitutional amendment that granted them the authority to decide whether any future casino expansion was possible. On the basis that the agreement also has to obtain voter approval, interest groups in the state have promised to contest the new gaming agreement and the prospective debut of Florida sportsbooks.

Second, there is disagreement among legal professionals over whether it is acceptable for tribes to provide mobile sports betting on non-reservation territories. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) can restrict gambling to areas inside a tribe’s geographical boundaries, however, this issue is still up for debate and decision at this time.

Eventually, Florida sports betting was stopped, and the tribal gaming compact was revoked, due to lawsuits based on one or both of the aforementioned issues. Appeals are pending, but they are moving slowly.

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