DraftKings Launches Horse Racing Sports Betting App in Florida

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Apr 3, 2023 08:00 PM
DraftKings Launches Horse Racing Sports Betting App in Florida

Leading United States online sports betting operator DraftKings has announced they will be launching a horse racing betting app in Florida. This...doesn't seem to align with current policies in The Sunshine State. If online sports betting in Florida isn't legal, how can DraftKings release a horse racing sports betting app?

It's simple, really: Florida offers legal horse race betting. It does not currently allow general sports betting.

Why does the law work like this in The Sunshine State? Why is DraftKings choosing now to release a horse racing sports betting app? And does this application launch say anything about the future of general sports betting in Florida?

Why Does Florida Allow Sports Betting Apps for Horse Racing?

Betting on horse races is legal in the state of Florida because of the parimutuel wagering system. Race tracks are not directly making money off gamblers.

The bets are instead placed against one another. The winnings go to those who submitted successful wagers, and the race tracks wind up taking a cut as an operating cost. That fee is usually around 10 percent or so.

Pari-mutuel wagering can seem complicated–and in some ways it is complicated. You don't necessarily know specific payouts. It depends on how many bets are placed and for how much. Odds and potential payouts are constantly shifting.

For Florida sports betting purposes, though, you only need to understand that pari-mutuel wagering doesn't fall under the same umbrella. In essence, it's sort of like a poker tournament. You're competing against other players rather than "the house." However, for bets placed on other sports, you're going against the operator itself.

For example, if you lose a wager on the Miami Dolphins to win the NFL's Super Bowl at 25-to-1 (+2500), the money you invested isn't going directly to another winner. You placed a fixed odds wager; you know your payout on a $100 bet would be $2,500. The sportsbook operator is on the hook for that, and the payout doesn't change based on how many other wagers they end up accepting.

Why is DraftKings Choosing Now to Launch a Horse Racing Sports Betting App in Florida?

DraftKings' horse racing sports betting app, which is called DK Horse, will launch throughout Florida for three primary reasons.

First and foremost, DraftKings has recently doubled-up their efforts to expand the application. DK Horse is now legal in 12 states: Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming. It makes sense DraftKings would target Florida as one of their new locations. The SunShine State represents one of the three biggest sports markets overall, and they have a bigger horse racing scene than most other places in the USA.

Beyond that, DraftKings is clearly trying to find ways to operate inside states that don't allow them to offer their other sports betting services. Kentucky doesn't allow online sports betting, but much like Florida, they permit pari-mutuel wagering. 

Finally, DK Horse's launch in Florida proves that timing is everything. They want to get their sports betting app off the ground in time for the Kentucky Derby. It is the biggest horse race of the year in the United States, and it will take place on Saturday, May 6. Getting DK Horse live in Florida now ensures that DraftKings will be able to profit off the inevitable rush to bet on the 2023 Kentucky Derby.

Does the Launch of DK Horse Say Anything About the Future of Online Sports Betting in Florida?

As fans of clarity and resolution, we would like to say the launch of DK Horse in The Sunshine State infers optimism about overall sports betting throughout Florida. Unfortunately, it doesn't.

The status of online sports betting in Florida remains tied up in litigation. The state initially rolled out in-person wagering at the end of 2021 after signing a gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe. This agreement gave the Seminoles exclusive control over all sports betting operations in Florida. Not long after launching, though, the Seminoles debuted a sports betting app that users could operate off-site. Prospective competitors who wanted to crack the Florida market argued this violated the compact, which permitted only on-site wagering. The Seminoles maintained the app was an extension of their property.

West Flagler Associates eventually filed a lawsuit against the state and Seminoles. A District Court judge ruled in their favor, and Florida sports betting was shuddered before the calendar flipped to 2022. The matter is currently still under deliberation in the United States Courts of Appeals, and it does not have a timeline for resolution. Regardless of the eventual verdict, many have come to believe the issue will inevitably be elevated to the Supreme Court. This means it could still be years before sports betting returns to Florida. 

In the meantime, Floridians can explore their smattering of alternatives. They can travel across state lines to a location that has already legalized sports betting, or they can sign up with one of the top online sportsbooks that allow anyone in Florida to create an account. And then, of course, Floridians can always still bet on horse racing. The DK Horse sports betting app and others just like it should appeal to online gamblers, and bets can also be placed at one of The Sunshine State's race tracks.

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

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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