Florida Sports Betting Timeline Could be Delayed Until After 2026

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Feb 13, 2023 07:00 PM
Florida Sports Betting Timeline Could be Delayed Until After 2026

As things currently stand, the battle over legal sports betting in Florida has no end in sight. Though the U.S. Court of Appeals has heard and read arguments from both sides, no timeline for a decision has been set. And even when one comes, there's no guarantee the matter is officially free from litigation. In fact, depending on when a verdict gets delivered and what it is, there's a chance the Florida sports betting timeline could be delayed until after 2026. 

To be fair, this looms as a worst case scenario. To be even more fair, the worst case scenario has become increasingly realistic over the past few months. Even certain legal experts don't see Florida sports betting getting the green light before 2025.

This is a far cry from where the Sunshine State stood a little over a year ago. Florida implemented legalized on-site sports betting in the latter half of 2021. Then, not even months later, the gaming compact between the state and Seminole tribe was overturned. Sports betting has been dormant ever since. 

It's tough to grapple with this kind of reversal. Some can hardly believe it. And even those that do usually believe the status of Florida sports betting will be temporary. It has to be. More than half of the United States has legalized sports betting. Surely Florida won't remain in the minority for much longer.

Indeed, it doesn't seem like that's the plan. The state will no doubt regroup and look to propose a new sports betting bill if the U.S. Courts of Appeals doesn't uphold their current gaming compact. But that's assuming they have both the time and opportunity to come up with a proposal. With the way things are currently going, they might not.

How the Florida Sports Betting Timeline Could be Delayed Multiple Years

Using the term "Florida sports betting timeline" might be too charitable. It suggests there's some sort of a clock on what's happening at the moment. And there's not. For now, that's not a huge issue. But it will become a huge problem if the U.S. Court of Appeals doesn't settle the case between Seminole Tribe and West Flagler Associates by the time legislative sessions begin this spring. 

As Legal Sports Report noted, Florida's 2023 legislative meetings are scheduled to run from March 7 through May 5. It's during this window that congress would hash out a new sports betting bill in the event one is needed. However, they won't know if another sports betting initiative is necessary until the current case is resolved. And if the U.S. Court of Appeals doesn't render their verdict before the sessions adjourn, Florida won't be able to put a sports betting bill on the 2024 election ballot. 

Assuming they can't do that, then the earliest a Florida sports betting initiative could be put to vote is 2026. And that would mean legal Florida sports betting couldn't take effect until sometime in 2027—around four years from now.

U.S. Court of Appeals May Not be the Final Litigation Step for Florida Sports Betting

Just so we're clear: The U.S. Court of Appeals has not done or said anything to imply they will let the case between the Seminole Tribe and West Flagler Associates spill past the legislative sessions. The general belief is they will deliver a verdict sometime in the near future to allow for next steps within this 60-day window.

Still, this is far from a guarantee. What's more, the U.S. Court of Appeals may not actually be the last round of litigation for Florida sports betting. 

Let's say the U.S. Court of Appeals upholds Florida's gaming compact, which granted the Seminole Tribe exclusive rights to the state's sports betting via on-site locations. That could technically be the end of it. And if so, Florida sports betting could return by the end of 2023. But West Flagler Associates could also seek to push the issue all the way to the Supreme Court, which would add months to the deliberation process.

The same scenario is in play if the U.S. Court of Appeals rules in favor of West Flagler Associates, which has argued the gaming compact violated Florida's constitution by allowing the Seminole Tribe to accept wagers via mobile applications under the guise those mobile apps qualified as tribal property. Should the gaming compact be overturned again, many expect the Seminole Tribe, which has the backing of the state and federal government, to elevate the issue to the Supreme Court.

In the event the battle over Florida sports betting requires Supreme Court intervention, there's no way the matter will be resolved before the state's legislative meetings conclude. And in this case, the only way the Sunshine State could feasibly get sports betting legalized before 2026 would be if the Supreme Court upholds the Seminole Tribe's gaming compact.

Keep Your Expectations Low for Florida Sports Betting

Please do not read any of the above as a prediction. We genuinely do not know how the Florida sports betting litigation will play out. Really, no one does. Industry and legal experts can make predictions, but the fact is, the state of Florida is in uncharted territory. There's no telling, for sure, what happens next.

This, of course, is a bummer for Floridians looking to bet on sports. It's a double-whammy for Floridians who want to place their wagers online, too. Because no matter what happens at the end of this, online sports betting throughout Florida is still a ways off. It can arrive in late-2024 or by the start of 2025 at the absolute earliest.

In the meantime, Florida sports bettors should consider all their alternatives. And they do have a few. They can travel to a state that offers sports betting, or they can check out our reviews of the top online sportsbooks, many of which accept wagers from almost anyone in the United States.

Failing that, all Floridians can do is wait. And as we already know, that wait could last a while—years, in fact.

Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can decide which one works for 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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