Online Sports Betting Launches in Florida

Last Updated: Nov 11th 2021   Published: Nov 2nd 2021   2 Min Read
Online Sports Betting Launches in Florida
Image © Courier Post-USA TODAY NETWORK

Online sports betting has officially launched in Florida! 

The Seminole Tribe launched a digital sportsbook on Monday, November 1, which kicks off online sports betting in Florida. 

Florida players of legal gambling age may now download an app, launched by the Hard Rock Sportsbook, which accepts deposits and sports wagers on sports, including baseball, football, and soccer. 

This launch is thanks (in part) to a 30-year agreement brokered by Seminole Tribe Chairman Marcelus Osceola Jr., which was approved by state lawmakers in May, and signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis. 

This agreement will legally allow Florida residents to place bets on sports while physically located within state lines. This deal is currently being challenged by Florida pari-mutuel owners in federal court, and a judge will hear arguments on Friday, November 5. 

If all goes well, the Seminole Tribe will continue to accept bets through the online platform and app; servers are located on tribal land. The agreement states that the tribe will get exclusive rights to accept mobile app bets in the state of Florida, which is in part why the deal is being challenged. 

The deal also allows tribal casinos to offer roulette and craps.  

The tribe will be able to exclusively run this platform within Florida — and in return, Florida will get billions of dollars from the tribe, at least $2.5 billion within the first five years. The state accepted its first payment of $37 million in October. 

Florida legislature expects this deal to be mutually beneficial for both the Seminole Tribe as well as the state of Florida. 

DeSantis touted the state’s decision at a recent press conference, "Not only will this compact bring a guaranteed $2.5 billion in revenue over the next five years, but it also brings together Florida pari-mutuel businesses from across the state in a creative partnership with the Seminole Tribe providing increased access to safe and transparent sports betting in Florida."

Before this deal was signed, it was illegal to bet on professional sports in Florida, and non-tribal casinos were not legally allowed to open within 15 miles of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood; now, more casinos are expected to open in Florida. The deal also allows for the Hollywood casino to expand its operations.  

The tribe must also partner with pari-mutuels to offer online sports wagering. On October 28, it was announced that the land-based partners would be Hialeah Park Casino, Ocala Gainesville Poker, Ocala Breeders’ Sales, the Palm Beach Kennel Club, Tampa Bay Downs, and TGT Poker & Racebook. 

Both DraftKings and FanDuel have each invested $10 million toward legalizing sports betting at professional sporting events. Voters will see this proposal on the 2022 ballot if this proposal is approved by the Florida Supreme Court.

Miami mayor Dan Gelber stated, “Floridians are watching as a tribal gambling compact is becoming a vehicle by which widespread casino gambling will be spread throughout our state.” 

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