Cruise Ship Sports Betting Offers Legal Gambling Workaround for Florida Residents

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Sep 4, 2022 08:00 PM
Cruise Ship Sports Betting Offers Legal Gambling Workaround for Florida Residents

Legal cruise ship sports betting is coming to a port near you, and it stands to change the gambling industry forever—especially for those residing in Florida.

Carnival Corporation and BetMGM recently struck a deal to put sportsbooks on more than 50 U.S.-based ships. This agreement will permit betting on the cruise ships while they're traveling at sea, and when they're docked at ports where sports betting is already legal.

If you're wondering why this deal comes now, it's because the timing couldn't be better. Gambling has never been more accessible across North America. Entering July 2022, legal sports betting in the USA is allowed and fully implemented in 35 of the 50 states, plus Washington, D.C.

But what about the states that have yet to approve sports gambling? Or, more specifically, the states that have repealed it? After legal sports betting arrived in Florida at the end of 2021, it was quickly pulled back amid a ruling that the gaming compact struck between the state and the Seminole Tribe represented an unconstitutional monopoly. Can Floridians take advantage of this new oceanic gambling agreement between Carnival and BetMGM?

The truth is, they can. More than that, people in Florida stand to benefit from cruise ship sports betting more than perhaps anyone else.

Details of Cruise Ship Sports Betting Deal Between Carnival and BetMGM

The full details of the cruise ship sports betting accord between Carnival Corporation, one of the biggest cruise lines in the world, and BetMGM can only be described as landmark.

Sportsbooks will be placed on 50 of the company's ships over the next few months. These will mostly come in the form of self-service betting kiosks that have become popular at professional sporting venues in states with legal sports gambling.

What's more, people on the cruise ship will have the ability to place sports wagers using the BetMGM mobile betting app while on the boat—regardless of where they're docked. (Keep this detail in mind for later, because it's important.) There is also the vast potential of expansion for cruise ship sports betting. As of now, the 50 ships will span across Carnival Cruise Line and sister companies like Holland America Line and Princess Cruises, the latter of which already offers sports betting on some of their ships.

"We've found an ideal partner in Carnival Corporation and look forward to providing our sports betting and iGaming products to its millions of passengers," BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt told ESPN in a statement. "This is another great opportunity for us to further expand BetMGM's footprint."

For those wondering whether this installation cruise ship sports betting will go off without a hitch, there is likely little to worry about. Cruise ships are uniquely equipped to handle sports betting, mostly because they already oversee gambling on board. Most cruise ships under the Carnival Corporation umbrella have casinos with slots and table games and the full staff and on-site cash flow that comes with them. Handling sports bets shouldn't be a problem. And people who like investing in futures and bets that wouldn't technically pay out until after their trips are over needn't concern themselves. Much like all the top online sports betting websites in the game, the BetMGM app will allow you to set up direct deposit so that you can make withdrawals long after your cruise has docked and ended.

Cruise Ship Sports Betting Could Be Huge for Floridians

Though everyone who takes a Carnival Cruise stands to benefit from the company's partnership with BetMGM, people who live in Florida are particularly better off.

So many of the most popular Carnival cruise destinations take off and return somewhere in Florida—mainly, Orlando and Miami. This localization of departures and arrivals will give Floridians ample opportunity to take three- or four-day excursions while legally betting on sports.

Perhaps this sounds like a small benefit. It's not. Residents in Texas, for example, don't have as readied access to cruise ship departures. They typically must fly to ports in other states where the ships dock. And at that point, if you're taking a trip explicitly to bet on sports, the price tag gets pretty expensive. You're almost better off flying to bet on sports in Las Vegas.

Floridians, however, are now mostly a doable drive from cruise ship ports that allow sports betting on board. And driving a short way will, in many cases, beat traveling across state lines or registering with an off-shore sportsbook that can often take longer than domestic bookies to process transactions.

Will Florida Ever Get Legal Sports Betting Back?

Unfortunately, this agreement between Carnival and BetMGM doesn't portend anything, good or bad, about the future of legal sports betting in Florida.

As it stands, the state is essentially unable to re-address the issue until 2023 at the absolute earliest. And given how contentious the lobbying has gotten from the Seminole tribe and the commercial sportsbooks, many don't see legal sports betting returning to Florida before 2024.

That's the bad news. The goods news, though, is Floridians now have yet another alternative to explore in cruise ship sports betting. It may not be a perfect or especially convenient solution, but it's better than not having access to legal sports betting at all.

Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can find one that works for all of your sports betting:

Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan Favale leverages over 12 years of sports journalism expertise in his role as New York staff writer. He provides in-depth analysis across the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, tennis, NASCAR, college basketball, and sports betting. Dan co-hosts the popular Hardwood Knocks NBA podc...

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