Now that Florida sports betting has returned, the state will resume collecting payments from The Seminole Tribe.
Officials in charge of The Sunshine State’s budget are no doubt thrilled. Extra funds to divvy up is never a bad thing. And for this case specifically, sports betting in Florida figures to turn a lucrative profit. It is no smaller than a top-five sports gambling market in the United States. And on top of that, the 2021 gaming compact agreed upon between The Sunshine State and Seminole Tribe promised to generate around $500 million per year for Florida.
Granted, this deal was hashed out more than two years ago, becoming official in April 2021. Florida sports betting has been dormant ever since while it’s tied up in litigation.
Does the Seminole Tribe resuming sports betting payments mean that litigation is over? Are there any qualifications attached to the money as they get retail and online sports betting in Florida back up and running? And what is the state of sports gambling in Florida anyway? Is it open to everyone? Available everywhere?
As is always the case with sports betting in The Sunshine State, questions upon questions abound. We’re here to try answering as many as possible.
Florida Sports Betting Compact Could be Worth $650 Million to the State This Upcoming Year
Remember that $500 million number we just tossed around? Well, it could apparently be higher. Much higher. CEO of Seminole Gaming and chairman of Hard Rock International Jim Allen confirmed as much during a recent conversation with the News Service of Florida. Here’s the SunSentinel’s Shira Moolten with the full scoop on the Seminole Tribe getting ready to shell out hundreds of millions of dollars as part of their sports betting operations:
“The Seminole Tribe will begin paying the state of Florida hundreds of millions of dollars as part of its 2021 gambling deal with Governor [Ron] DeSantis that legalized sports betting, officials confirmed Friday, a day after the tribe celebrated the launch of sports betting, craps and roulette across South Florida. Jim Allen, CEO of Seminole Gaming and chairman of Hard Rock International, told The News Service of Florida on Friday that the tribe expects to pay the state at least $650 million over the next year as part of their 2021 gaming compact, which gave the tribe a monopoly on sports betting.
“‘The compact is now back in full force, and the tribe is abiding with the full terms of the compact,’ Allen said. ‘It’s certainly our intention to comply with the compact in our relationship with the state. Obviously, we’re just launching all this stuff today.”
Sending $650 million to the state just to provide sports betting to Floridians seems like a lot. And it is. But as Moolten noted, the Seminole Tribe brokered a sports betting monopoly back in 2021. That means they are the only game in town, so to speak. Other casino operators do not have rights to sports gambling operations, and online sportsbooks in the United States remain prohibited from entering the market.
Where in Florida is It Legal to Bet on Sports?
Provided the Seminole Tribe’s sports betting services are accessible enough, they will have no trouble turning the profits necessary to back up these tax-payment projections. Technically, sports betting in Florida is legal everywhere. However, you need to place wagers through the Seminole Tribe’s operations.
This can be done by visiting one of their retail casino locations. As of now, there will be four Seminole Tribe sportsbooks up and running by Monday, December 11. Most of them will be scattered throughout South Florida, where the Seminole Tribe’s casinos are predominantly operational.
Residents who don’t live within close proximity to a Seminole sportsbook needn’t worry, though. They can use the Seminole Tribe Florida sports betting app, which is being run in partnership with Hard Rock Bet. While the gaming compact stipulates that sports betting must take place on tribal land, the Seminoles have argued that their mobile application is an extension of tribal property because that’s where the servers are located. West Flagler Associates, another Florida gaming operator, manufactured a lawsuit that alleges this violates the Indian Regulatory Gaming Act. But the Florida Supreme Court just recently ruled in favor of upholding the gaming compact. That lends legitimacy to the Seminole Tribe’s thinking and allows anyone throughout the state of Florida to bet on sports.
And yes, we mean anyone. When the Seminole Florida sports betting app first relaunched, it was only available to existing customers who signed up in 2021. But the tribe announced at the start of December that the app is now available to new users and, by extension, all Florida residents.
Does This Mean the Florida Sports Betting Litigation is Over?
Though this is all a huge development for the future of Florida sports betting, its legality isn’t quite in the clear. The Florida Supreme Court rejected West Flagler Associates’ request to shut down sports betting while the United States Supreme Court decides whether to hear the case. But the latter is still deliberating over the matter.
Many experts expect the United States Supreme Court to hear West Flagler Associates’ case. Still, this Florida sports betting decision isn’t expected to be revealed before the start of 2024.
It isn’t quite clear what will happen to the Seminoles’ sports betting operations if the United States Supreme Court decides to hear the case. Would Florida sports betting operations be forced to shut down yet again, as they were in 2021? Or would the Seminoles still be allowed to conduct business until a final verdict is reached?
The tribe’s state-wide release of their sports betting app suggests they believe that they’ll be allowed to continue accepting wagers as the process plays out. But as we know all too well, the battle over Florida sports betting is nothing if not a series of curveballs. Nevertheless, in the meantime, it looks like both the state and the Seminole Tribe are expecting to rake in cash hand over fist.
Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can find one that works for all of your sports betting needs: