Opposing Parties at War over Legalization of Sports Betting in Florida

Tropicana Field St Petersburg Florida
A general view at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, Florida. Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images/AFP

The sports betting situation in Florida is unique, difficult, and complicated. Here is a breakdown. The current sports betting landscape in Florida is unique because sports betting was once legal and it is now no longer legal.

It is, moreover, difficult and complicated because the legal battle is immense. All of this creates an intense climate in Florida, which is a result of there being so much at stake not just legally but also financially.

There is tribal interest on one side and top sportsbooks like FanDuel on another. Somewhere in this intense mess are the Floridian sports bettors who are hoping to place wagers legally. 

Sports Betting Was Legal in Florida

The legalization of sports betting was primarily a consequence of negotiations between the governor of Florida (Ron DeSantis) and the Seminole Tribe.

Ultimately, in April 2021, DeSantis signed a deal with the Seminole Tribe that allowed for online sports betting to happen legally.

Hard Rock Opening

Thereafter, the Hard Rock Sportsbook opened, and it offered an app for online sports betting to take place. However, the Hard Rock Sportsbook was shut down.

This change is a product of a legal challenge mounted by various groups that claimed that the legalization of sports betting in Florida violated federal and state laws.

Sports betting is no longer legal in Florida — or stated more precisely, its legal status is undecided — because courts ruled in favor of the legal challenge.

What Now?

The Seminole Tribe has not given up as it is appealing the decision that was made against their sports betting endeavor.

However, one of their appeals was just dismissed. Sportsbooks such as FanDuel are also trying to popularize ballot measures that would result in the legalization of online sports betting. 

Seminole Tribe Still Fighting

They are, in other words, trying to get their foot in the door that the Seminole Tribe would like to hold close to them.

They hope to bring the question of legal online sports betting on the 2024 state ballot, although some estimate that mobile sports betting won’t be legalized for several years. In short, the immediate future in the Sunshine State looks bleak for bettors.