Florida Sports Betting Stoppage Costs State Las Vegas Sands Casino Bid

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Sep 4, 2022 08:00 PM
Florida Sports Betting Stoppage Costs State Las Vegas Sands Casino Bid

The Florida sports betting stoppage has caused enough problems for the Sunshine State.

Aside from the relative mess that is legal sports betting in Florida, they have needed to juggle disputes between the Seminole tribe and other tribes and commercial sportsbook operators who want a piece of the betting business that currently doesn't even exist. And now, on top of that, the state is losing a massive casino bid, at least in part, because there's no resolution to the sports betting dilemma in sight.

On the surface, this isn't a huge issue. It's more so a loss for the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, a large casino company that spent tons of money trying to get an initiative passed allowing them to set up shop in Florida. But by letting this bid get retracted, the state is missing out on even more potential revenue. 

Could this move be a wake-up call for lawmakers? Or should Florida betting enthusiasts strap in for the long haul as the state tries to resolve the thorny disputes at hand? Let's dig into the nitty-gritty of it all.

Las Vegas Sands Corporation Pulls Out of Florida Market

According to the state Division of Elections, Las Vegas Sands Corporation—which has left their footprint all over Las Vegas, Nevada—gave more than $70 million to Florida Voters in Charge, a political organization that in turn, backed their casino bill. That particular initiative would have allowed tribes other than the Seminoles to partake in sportsbook operations, as well as commercial odds providers like Caesars, BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, etc.

Though Las Vegas Sands traveled to great lengths for obvious reasons—to access a license in one of the biggest markets for legal sports betting in the United States—many believe their focus on casino sports betting, specifically, hinted at plans to eventually open a sprawling resort somewhere in the state. To be sure: This has not been confirmed. It's more a hunch.

Still, it feels like a pretty accurate hunch—not to mention a lucrative one. Not only would a large casino resort reel in a ton of sports betting revenue for Florida, but it could create a wealth of jobs in the casino, hotel, and any other entities like shops and entertainment venues that accompanied the finished product.

This plan now feels like a pipe dream. Without the ability to accept sports bets, it doesn't make much sense for any company to try setting up a casino resort and hotel. But given how much Las Vegas Sands spent in the first place just for the right to maybe get sports betting and casino license, there could be the hope they'll return to the table if and when Florida legalizes sports betting.

Emphasis on "if."

Seminole Tribe is the Key to Florida Sports Betting Stoppage

For those who aren't familiar with the logistics of Florida's sports betting situation, here are the cliff notes: The state initially rolled out legal sports betting in 2021, but the gaming compact they signed with the Seminole tribe gave the latter exclusive rights over accepting wagers. This was met by opposition from other tribes and larger online sportsbooks. A judge eventually sided with the excluded tribes and commercial operators, ruling that the Seminole tribe's gaming compact constituted a monopoly that shouldn't exist.

That verdict was rendered around December 2021. Legal sports betting in Florida was immediately repealed from that moment on and has yet to return. And it doesn't seem like it's returning anytime soon.

Las Vegas Sands wasn't the only party backing an alternative sports betting initiative. There are a handful of others that would open up the licensing process. However, the Seminole tribe has been spending aggressively on lobbyists to try blocking these measures. In opposition to the Las Vegas Sands proposal alone, they reportedly burned $40 million to keep it off the November 2022 ballot.

What's Next for Florida Sports Betting Stoppage

Ultimately, nothing in Florida will change without the Seminoles agreeing to concessions. For the time being, they don't appear ready to travel down that path.

And why would they? They are the only casino operator in the state and signed an agreement to which they're attempting to hold Florida. Their legal recourse isn't airtight, but they do have a sturdy leg on which to sand—that leg being the gaming compact governor Ron DeSantis negotiated with them.

The Seminole tribe also has a ton of leverage in the form of time. Since no sports betting bill made the 2022 November ballot, the earliest another can appear is 2024. That's a great deal of time for Florida to go without projected sports betting revenue, which was forecasted to bring in tens of millions of dollars in taxes. The wait could theoretically be even longer if the Seminole tribe continues to successfully ward off alternative proposals form outside tribes and sportsbook companies.

None of which is good news for betting enthusiasts inside the Sunshine State. On the bright side, Floridians can find a site from our reviews of the top online sportsbooks that will accept their bets. They also have the option of crossing state lines into places where sports betting is already legal.

Beyond that, though, there isn't much for Florida residents to do other than wait out this mess and hope one or both sides eventually blink.

Take a look this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can find one that will work 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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