Ron DeSantis Re-Election Spells Horrible News for Florida Online Sports Betting

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Nov 9, 2022 12:00 AM
Florida online sports betting future looks bleak.

The battle for sports betting in Florida is far from over, but we just received some valuable insight into how it might play out. On Tuesday, November 7, governor Ron DeSantis officially won his bid for re-election. That, in essence, means the push for Florida online sports betting is just about dead.

For now.

Of course, we can't say anything for sure. Then again, we kind of can. Never mind that the Election Day results aren't yet official. Florida is an overwhelmingly Republican state, and the Democratic nominee was a former Republican himself who didn't run on a pro-Florida online sports betting platform. The state may not be able to confirm it just yet, but the race has been called by multiple major news outlets, including CNN, MSNBC and Fox. Ron DeSantis will remain the governor of Florida.

Now that we know this is the case, we can read between the lines on the future of sports betting in Florida. And frankly, there's not a lot to take in.

Florida may very well bring back sports betting in the near future, but anyone hoping for an amended rollout shouldn't hold their breath.

Ron DeSantis Seems Implicitly Against Florida Online Sports Betting

Please do not mistake this to mean that Ron DeSantis is against all Florida sports betting. We already know that he isn't.

DeSantis was the one who negotiated the gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe that gave them exclusive rights over sports betting in Florida last year. And that agreement actually went into effect. For a short time, the Seminoles had sports betting available on their tribal properties and through an on-site and mobile partnership with Hard Rock. However, their monopoly over Florida sports betting was eventually contested, as was their use of mobile sports betting on-site. A judge ruled in favor of that contest to close out 2021. Florida has not offered sports betting since then, and its future remains in limbo to this day.

By letter of the law, the re-election of DeSantis doesn't necessarily change anything. The appellate court still needs to provide their ruling on the matter, and they have yet to offer a timeline for their verdict. DeSantis can neither speed them up nor singlehandedly overrule them. The result can still be appealed by the losing party, and there's still a chance this entire matter ends up in the Supreme Court.

With this said, party influence is everything when it comes to state politics. And with DeSantis in place as governor, the Republicans retain control at almost every level of local government. This effectively increases the chances that the final ruling on sports betting throughout Florida will tilt toward his views.

And where does DeSantis stand exactly? We needn't read between any lines to figure that out. He spelled it out as clear as day when he brokered that agreement with the Seminoles. Not only did the compact span years and disallow commercial sports betting, but it also prohibited other tribes and on-site gaming establishments from joining the Florida sports betting market. Given how decisive those terms were, we can only imagine that DeSantis is pulling for that original agreement to be reinstated.

Ron DeSantis Re-Election is a Big Victory for the Seminole Tribe

Heading into November, industry experts started predicting the Seminole Tribe would win the battle for Florida sports betting. Those predictions now feel like ironclad guarantees.

Perhaps the elections even played a role in those forecasts. After all, many said they believed "Ron DeSantis and the Seminoles" would prevail, which shows you just how intertwined they have become. His re-election guarantees the Seminoles will have the most powerful voice in the state continuing to back them. 

That, of course, begs the question: What would the return of Florida sports betting look like? Our answer: Exactly the same as it looked before.

Under the previous terms, sports betting in Florida was only legal at one of the Seminoles' casinos. No other gaming establishments had the right to accept bets. Ditto for commercial sportsbooks, both online and in-person. Though the gaming compact also precluded any mobile sports betting, the Seminoles offered one anyway. They argue that a Seminole-approved app is an extension of their tribal ground.

As many lawyers have pointed out, this logic may not hold up in court. But at this point, it will ultimately do very little to overturn the end result. The Seminoles may not retain the ability to let patrons use their sports betting app off-site, but they are on track to regain exclusive Florida sports betting rights.

Will Online Sports Betting Ever Come to Florida?

In these cases, it's best to default to "Never say never." Most of the time, in fact, we'd say "Florida online sports betting will be legalized eventually." It's too popular throughout the rest of the United States to remain dormant in one of the country's largest markets.

Then again, the gaming compact Ron DeSantis signed with the Seminole Tribe is supposed to span 30 years. You're reading that correctly. Three decades. If the Seminoles have exclusivity over Florida's sports betting rights for that long, there's very little chance the state will be able to expand their legal gambling laws to include commercial and online entities.

On the somewhat bright side, Floridians are not without alternatives. Many of the sites from our reviews of the best online sportsbooks let people from all over the United States set up an account and process transactions almost immediately. There are also a number of neighboring states Floridians can travel to that offer legal sports betting.

Aside from that, though, there's now a chance Florida online sports betting could be decades away. 

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Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan first began writing about sports back in 2011. At the time, his expertise lied in the NBA and NFL. More than one decade, that remains the case. But he's also expanded his catalog to include extensive knowledge and analysis on the NHL, MLB, tennis, NASCAR, college ba...

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