Florida Sports Betting Battle Could Cost State "Billions" of Dollars

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Jan 26, 2023 12:00 AM
The Florida sports betting battle is proving to be quite costly.

Every new update on the Florida sports betting battle invariably ends with the same kicker: We must remain in wait-and-see mode as the long litigation process plays out. The latest development, though, is a little bit different—and not in a good way.

Experts are starting to take stock of the financial fallout now that sports betting in Florida is no longer legal. And the figures coming out from these evaluations are, quite frankly, staggering.

Because as it turns out, the Florida sports betting battle could be costing the state billions of dollars.

Here's Why the Florida Sports Betting Battle Could Cost the State Billions

When discussing the battle over the future of sports betting in Florida, a lion's share of the focus gets paid to the fate of legal gambling. "Will Florida sports betting be legal or not?" That's what most people care about.

Rightfully so, too. Especially under the circumstances. Remember, sports betting in Florida was legal once upon a time. It even went live. Floridians were able to place wagers online and in-person and everything. They were then forced to endure an operational stoppage in late 2021. Florida sports betting has remained dormant ever since.

In the interim, many have tried to figure out who's to blame. Did the state mess up by signing an exclusive gaming compact with the Seminole tribe? Did the tribe actually violate the Indiana Gaming Regulatory Act by allowing Floridians to place online wagers through their mobile betting app that was run by Hard Rock Casino? What happens if the U.S. Court of Appeals holds up the District Court ruling that effectively killed Florida sports betting? Is there a potential middle ground? As in, will the Seminole Tribe ever consider allowing retailing online sportsbooks to operate in the Sunshine State?

All the while, as these questions rage on, Florida is not making any money off sports betting. And that's a big deal. As a handful of legal analysts have noted now that the Florida sports betting battle has spilled into 2023, the gaming compact with the Seminoles was worth "$2.5 billion over five years" to the state.

For the mathematically challenged, that's an average of $500 million every 12 months. Florida sports betting has already been shut down for more than a year. If it remains shelved until the fall of 2023, it'll mark a full two years. And that would mean the state missed out on $1 billion. As it stands, if sports betting were re-instituted tomorrow, Florida will have missed out on around $600 million in revenue to date from the gaming compact. There is no way to recoup these funds. The state can only hope the litigation ends soon—and in their favor—so they can re-implement the gaming compact with the Seminoles.

Is There an End in Sight to the Battle Over Florida Sports Betting?

No timetable can be put on a Florida sports betting verdict from the U.S. Court of Appeals. That being said, the Seminole tribe—and, in turn, the state's pockets—received a fairly large victory in December. That's when federal lawyers pushed for a reversal of the Florida sports betting decision.

This move was thought to give the previous gaming compact new life. The agreement already had the support of the state. Led by Governor Ron DeSantis, they were the ones who negotiated the terms with the Seminole tribe. And now we know the federal government is also on their side. Members of President Joe Biden's administration have even gone as far as saying they want Florida sports betting back up and running by the end of 2023.

Still, neither the federal nor the state government has carte blanche over the U.S. Court of Appeals. Not on this matter.

The court will make their decision independently. If they rule in favor of the current gaming compact, it shouldn't take too long for legal Florida sports betting to take effect once again. But if they find that the Seminoles' agreement with the state did indeed violate the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, then things will get even messier.

How Much Sports Betting Revenue Will Florida Miss Out On?

It is impossible to put a total figure on how much money the Florida sports betting battle will ultimately cost the state. The number rises everyday it goes without a resolution.

Best-case scenario: Florida sports betting returns by the end of 2023, in which case the state will have missed out on $1 billion or so in sports betting revenue. But we must also account for their worst-case scenario. If the U.S. Court of Appeals upholds the 2021 ruling, this will go one of two ways: Either Florida sports betting returns to square one or the matter will be appealed yet again at the Supreme Court level.

Neither outcome is particularly better than the other. Starting the legal sports betting process all over could take years. That's the standard when pushing a bill through the House of Representatives and Senate and then onto a voter ballot. But bringing the Florida sports betting battle to the Supreme Court isn't necessarily a time-saver. That litigation process could take years to unfold, as well.

This is all to say: Unless the U.S. Court of Appeals sides with the Seminoles, Florida and the federal government, this entire legal process will wind up being a multi-billion dollar loss for the Sunshine State.

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

  • EXCLUSIVE BONUS
    Bovada
    4.3/5
    50% bonus up to $250
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • BetOnline
    4.1/5
    100% bonus up to $1000
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • EXCLUSIVE BONUS
    BetUS
    4.4/5
    125% up to $2,500
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • Xbet
    4.3/5
    $500 Sign-up Bonus
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • BetNow
    4.5/5
    100% up to $1,000
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • MyBookie
    50% bonus up to $1000
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • Bookmaker
    100% up to $400
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • Sportsbetting
    3.6/5
    50% up to $1000
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • EveryGame
    $500 Sign Up Bonus
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • WagerWeb
    3.5/5
    100% up to $1,000
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • BetDSI
    3.3/5
    100% up to $500 + $500 at BetDsi's Casino
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • BetNow
    4.3/5
    100% up to $450
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

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...

Online Sports Betting may receive compensation if you sign up through our links. Rest assured, we avoid biases and provide honest opinions on sportsbooks. Read our affiliate disclosure here.