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Sports Betting Quietly Goes Live in Florida

  • Written By Kevin Parker
  • Edited
  • Reading 3 minutes

Last Monday, the Seminole Tribe quietly unveiled an online sports betting offering in the Sunshine State. Bettors in the state are now able to place online sports bets from anywhere within the state’s borders via the Hard Rock Sportsbook app.

This offering has been available for both iOS and Android-powered devices and was authorized through the 2021 Florida Gaming Compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Some of the sports that players in the state can place bets on include football, basketball, soccer, tennis, baseball and even college football among others.

Sports betting in Florida has been a long time coming. However, before the tribe’s move, there was no clear timeline for when regulated sportsbooks would become a reality. Following the approval of the state a while back, the activity was officially meant to go live in the state on October 15. That did not come to pass.

As per the terms of the laws that the state’s legislature approved, the Seminole Tribe got full control over all sports betting. A spokesperson from the tribe had hinted at a possible launch in November. However, no one imagined it would have come as early as it did.

A Few Hurdles

It goes without saying that the rollout of sports betting in Florida was highly anticipated. Even so, the launch was an odd one. For instance, there was no fanfare involved during the launch – the app’s launch was first reported by a talk-show host. Moreover, a spokesman from the tribe also declined to provide any comment on the move. Those, as it turns out, were the first signs of possible troubles.

At the end of October, the Seminole Tribe of Florida supposedly reached an agreement with five pari-mutuel facilities. They included the Palm Beach Kennel Club, Hialeah Park Casino, Ocala Gainesville Poker and Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co., Tampa Bay Downs and TGT Poker & Racebook in Tampa. These facilities, as per the terms of the agreement, would help in marketing sports betting which the tribe effectively has a monopoly over.

Not everyone has been too happy with the deals. Those who disagree with the compact have since filed lawsuits challenging the plan. The owners of two pari-mutuels, the group No Casinos and two prominent South Florida businessmen have filed lawsuits. This lawsuit’s impact could be seen as early as Friday, October 5.

Additionally, DraftKings and FanDuel are also trying to tip the scales by revoking the rights to sports betting away from the Seminoles. A referendum would make that a reality

Naturally, the tribe is already pushing back. Whichever way things go, it will have a massive impact on the future of sports betting in the Sunshine State.

While regulated and legal sportsbooks have not been available in Florida, sports betting enthusiasts have certainly not been missing out on the action. It is estimated that the residents of the state already spent up to $7 billion on sports betting thanks to offshore sports betting sites. That is a huge source of tax revenue and the state has been missing out on it.

That said, one thing is for sure. Sports betting in Florida is here to stay. It seems like bettors will just have to sit through the squabbles.

Kevin was raised on sports since a young teen and following a (fortunate) injury pursued new hobbies in table games such as Blackjack and Poker. Since 2009 Kevin has been writing for casino sites for various big names in the industry and CasinoSites.us is but one of his latest passion projects.