Florida Misses Out On Sports Betting Taxes As Heat, Panthers Thrive

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Written By Giovanni Shorter | Last Updated
Florida Sports Betting

Florida is seeing a major sports renaissance as the Miami Heat and Florida Panthers are competing in the NBA Finals and NHL Stanley Cup Final, respectively. With two professional sports teams active this deep into their seasons, revenue from Florida sports betting would be at an all-time high. Unfortunately, legal wagering issues persist in the Sunshine State, and there is no regulated market currently active.

Let’s take a closer look at the extra tax revenue Florida could be generating.

Florida Sports Betting Woes

A bit of background to start: Florida actually opened sports betting back in 2021, but it was shuttered shortly after that launch. Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Seminole Tribe signed a compact into law that allowed for retail and online sports betting. This led to the Hard Rock Sportsbook app. The Seminole Tribe owns the Hard Rock brand.

Federal district court judge Dabney Friedrich later ruled that the compact signed was in violation of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. This forced Florida to shut down all sports betting operations for the time being. Lawmakers have been in a legal battle over the compact and decision ever since.

Because of this, no new compact can be made and the initial one has been void. Now Floridians have no legal way of betting on the NBA Finals or Stanley Cup wagering.

Judge Friedrich’s Written Opinion

“It is well-settled that IGRA authorizes sports betting only on Indian lands. It is equally clear that the Secretary must reject compacts that violate IGRA’s terms.”
“Most locations in Florida are not Indian lands, which IGRA defines to mean lands “within the limits of any Indian reservation,” “held in trust by the United States for the benefit of any Indian tribe,” or “over which an Indian tribe exercises governmental power,”
“And although the Compact “deem[s]” all sports betting to occur at the location of the Tribe’s “sports book(s)” and supporting servers, this Court cannot accept that fiction.”

Lost Sports Betting Tax Revenue In Florida

It has been estimated that Florida would rake in $247 million in tax revenue annually from a local sports betting market. Florida is the third-most populated state in the country. The Sunshine State would become the largest sports betting state, as long as it launches before California and Texas. By population, it’s bigger than New York, the current king of sports betting markets.

If sports betting was active now, even these estimates may have been on the conservative end. Both the Miami Heat and Florida Panthers are surprises to have made it this far. Both teams were lower seeds headed into the postseason and have continued to outperform expectations.

Simply looking at the economic impact of the Denver Nuggets on Colorado sports betting can show what Florida is missing out on. The Heat are facing the Denver Nuggets, and Colorado is a sports betting state. As the Nuggets have gone on this run, they have seen massive sports betting numbers in the Centennial State.

Colorado Revenue Examined

April’s revenue report shows that $417.8 million were wagered on sports. This is a 6.5% uptick in action year over year. The bulk of the betting action during that stretch has been basketball wagers.

Colorado Wagers By Sport

NCAA Basketball1.3%

This is the first time basketball has been the dominating sport at Colorado sportsbooks. With the success of the Nuggets this year, it is unsurprising. For April, Colorado raked in $35,148,591.78 in gross gaming revenue (GGR) with $2,582,614.86 in state taxes.

With Florida being a far more populated state with a hunger for sports betting, the Sunshine State could easily surpass even these strong numbers in Colorado.

Until lawmakers are able to conclude the legal dispute and come to a consensus, Florida will continue to miss out on millions in tax revenue. Hopefully, this year’s success of local teams motivates lawmakers to get things done.