It Turns Out Florida Sports Betting Could Return for 2023 NFL Season

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Jun 8, 2023 12:00 AM
Is Florida sports betting about to return?

After the United States Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Seminole tribe and their gaming compact with The Sunshine State, many speculated that Florida sports betting could be on the verge of relaunching sometime in the near future. As it turns out, the timeline for the return of legal gambling may be even shorter than most initially thought.

How soon, exactly, could we see sports betting back in Florida?

By the start of the 2023 NFL season, which kicks off less than two months from this writing.

Is this a realistic timeline for the return of sports betting to The Sunshine State? Are we absolutely sure there will even be an official relaunch? Is there any aspect of this issue going largely overlooked, or anything else that we need to know?

For the first time in a while, the Florida sports betting news cycle is shifting almost daily. Let's catch up on the latest.

How Realistic is a Florida Sports Betting Relaunch in 2023?

When the United States Court of Appeals first delivered their verdict a few weeks ago, there were no immediate plans for the Seminole tribe to resume their sports betting operations. That sentiment has since shifted.

Since the rule, numerous industry experts have come out and said the Seminoles would be well within their rights to resume their sports betting operations, which included a mobile application in partnership with the Hard Rock Sportsbook. The latest person to do so is well-known gaming attorney Jeffrey Ifrah. He not only suggested that sports betting could return, but he referenced the swiftest timeline we've heard yet on its prospective relaunch.

“I don’t really see any reason for any delay in (the Seminoles’) ability to launch,” he recently told Legal Sports Report. “I expect they will be able to launch before the NFL season.”

If accurate, this is big-time news for both the Seminoles and the state of Florida. There is loads of money to be made during the NFL season. The National Football League is the biggest domestic moneymaker among all the best online sportsbooks in the United States. And neither the state of Florida nor the Seminoles has truly been able to capitalize on the sport's popularity. Legal sports betting in The Sunshine State didn't roll out until the end of 2021, when that current season was well underway. The gaming compact was also repealed by a District Court judge less than two months after legal gambling went live, giving operators a finite window to accept any wagers.

Assuming Florida commits to a sports betting relaunch, it remains to be seen if the start of the 2023 NFL season is actually realistic or closer to a pipe dream. With less than eight weeks to go before Week 1, that doesn't give any of the stakeholders much time to get their ducks in a row. Then again, the Seminoles and the state aren't exactly working with a blank slate here. They set up a sports betting infrastructure after agreeing to an exclusive gaming compact just a couple of years ago. Given the partnership with Hard Rock Sportsbook, as well as the limited number of locations that would actually be accepting wagers, it's possible that Florida sports betting could return with almost the flip of a switch.

The Seminole Tribe Remains Undecided on Potential Florida Sports Betting Relaunch

Despite more than a handful of experts in sports betting law acknowledging that the Seminoles could resume their sports betting operations almost immediately, the tribe apparently remains undecided on what to do. When asked  to comment on their future plans, they offered nothing but boiler-plate responses nearly devoid of substance.

“The Seminole Tribe of Florida is pleased with today’s unanimous decision,” the tribe said in a statement following the decision, per Legal Sports Report. “It is a positive outcome for the Seminole Tribe and the people of Florida, and for all of Indian Country.  The Tribe is fully reviewing the decision to determine its next steps.”

That last line is important. It suggests that the Seminoles are taking the prospect of additional litigation extremely seriously. Though the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled against West Flagler Associates, the primary plaintiffs on this lawsuit, they have the ability to try dragging this out. Many think they may try pushing this decision to the United States Supreme Court, which would tack on months, if not years, to the battle over Florida sports betting.

Select experts, like Ifrah, believe this outcome is a long shot. But many didn't believe the gaming compact would be overturned in the first place. If it was thrown out once, it could happen again. This is exactly why the Seminoles could wait a while before attempting to reopen their gambling operations. If they set up shop only for their gaming compact to be repealed while it's under review in the Supreme Court, it creates a headache and confusing state of uncertainty for everyone involved.

Granted, the Seminoles might not care. There is money to be made on 2023 NFL betting, even if the collection of wagers is ultimately temporary. But on the off chance this case does get elevated to the Supreme Court, the Seminoles may not want it looking like they're attempting to antagonize the opposition or skirt around an unsettled matter. The optics alone would be catastrophic, which is why we ultimately expect them to wait until they know that this Florida sports betting case is officially over. As for how long that takes, we can't be sure. It's purely a matter of waiting and seeing.

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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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