The status of Florida’s Sports Betting legislation

6 mins read
Florida's Sports Betting
Florida's Sports Betting

Florida’s sports betting legislation is incredibly complicated. In fact, it is under constant review and nobody is really sure of exactly what the legislation means, and while court cases are ongoing, there is currently no sportsbook option for bettors to use.

The status of sports betting in Florida should be monitored closely if you are interested in betting in this area, as there is every chance that the laws will continue to change and evolve.

It seemed as though people were allowed to gamble in the state, but a series of controversies have led to people generally agreeing that this is not the case at this moment of time. Yes, it really is that unclear.

When the legality of gambling was put into the hands of each individual state back in 2018, and the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was overturned, governments took their own approaches.

There are so many different markets and potential regulations, and some states and countries allow gambling on certain types of sports and events but not others. For instance, some will not allow gambling markets for things like future transfers.

After the Kylian Mbappé transfer saga in European football took so many twists and turns, it is easy to see why some people are tempted by transfer markets, but regulations sometimes just allow gambling on what happens in the sport itself, not in the management or board room.

Recent twists and turns in Florida’s sports betting legislation

Over the last year or so, the changes in Florida’s legislation and the betting industry have been hard to keep track of. In May 2021, the Florida Legislature approved a contract for gaming between the Seminole Tribe and the legislators in the state, but this has remained under review due to discrepancies in the definition of mobile sports gambling.

With some definitions of the law being interpreted as gambling being legal, the Hard Rock Sportsbook app was launched under the radar in November, but it was soon deemed to violate the Indian Regulatory Gaming Act (IRGA). As quickly as there was a sportsbook in place, it was taken away again.

The tribe announced when it was taken down on December 4 that this was a temporary stop, but the appeals have got somewhat lost in the system and there were two straight unfavorable rulings from federal judges.

If it is deemed that an appeal will be allowed, we could see some changes in the next year or so, but it is not likely that anything will happen this year.

There are certain forms of gambling that are still allowed in the state, which makes it even more complicated. For instance, it is possible for people to gamble on horse racing in the state, but sportsbook gambling has not yet been legalized in any real form.

Controversies in the Florida gambling industry

The changes in the industry have not been helped by certain controversies and high-profile news stories.

In January, Champions, the group who were pushing to get an amendment to the constitution, stated that they are not going to reach the threshold needed for this to be on the ballot. This means that it won’t be up for consideration again until 2024, subject of course to the appeals on the existing rulings.

In March 2022, Atlanta Falcons Receiver Calvin Ridley was found to have been betting on games on the Hard Rock Sportsbook in the brief period that it was online in November. This led to him being suspended for the upcoming season.

These have been relatively high-profile cases and controversies that have arguably hindered the case, and it is fair to say that the legislative case in Florida has been messy.

The future of the Florida gambling industry

To go along with the 18 states that currently have legal sportsbook gambling, expect there to be plenty more in the coming years. Florida’s Sports Betting is certainly one of the locations where the gambling industry has enough support, and eventually sportsbook gambling will be legal. The fact that some other forms of gambling are currently allowed further points to this fact.

With that said, those who were expecting gambling to be legalized soon will have to wait. It looks like sportsbooks will be off the table for at least the next two years, and a 2024-25 target is probably the best that the people of Florida could hope for.

In this tale of twists and turns, though, who knows what is next?

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