Legal sports betting in Florida kicked off in a surprise move on Nov. 1, 2021, when the Seminole Tribe launched its Hard Rock Sportsbook app. That’s awesome news for the Sunshine State, a massive hotbed for sports. However, the somewhat less awesome news is the fact that the app only lasted a month before suspending operations due to ongoing legal concerns.
The state has representatives in all of the major pro leagues, along with a number of top collegiate programs to boot. In this complete guide to Florida sports betting, we’ll walk through what you need to know and all of the possibilities for the future.
Is Florida sports betting legal?
Yes, but it’s complicated. Sports betting is legal in Florida and was available online with the November 2021 launch of the Hard Rock sports betting site. However, the Hard Rock’s suspension of service in December 2021 has returned Florida to a pre-launch phase. Retail sports betting at Seminole casinos are still in the works.
In April 2021, Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe agreed on a new gambling compact. The compact specifically addressed sports betting. It cleared legislative hurdles in May, but the federal government deferred making an official judgment on the 30-year gambling compact, allowing it to pass into law. So retail and online betting are on the way to the Sunshine State, but legal challenges are in play.
What still needs to happen
While there is a legal online sports betting app available in Florida — and an agreement in place with the state government — lawsuits remain that have halted the launch in the short-term, and could be a permanent impediment in the near-future. So it’s still an uncertain and bumpy road ahead for Florida sports betting.
The two lawsuits remaining are:
- West Flagler Associates v Deb Haaland and Department of the Interior — The plaintiffs argue that the tribal gaming compact does not follow the tenets of the IGRA of 1988 that limits gambling to tribal land.
- No Casinos Group et al v Deb Haaland and Department of the Interior — The plaintiffs argue that the compact is an end-run around a 2018 constitutional amendment, known as Amendment 3. It placed the decision about gambling expansion in the hands of the voters and passed with more than 70% of the vote.
So far, things are not going well for the tribe in court in the first challenge. An appeals court denied the tribe’s motion to stay a District Court decision that voided the tribe’s new compact with the state. Of course, the tribe is not going to stop the fight right here, but the future for sports betting in Florida is certainly up in the air. As new developments occur, we will keep you informed, but in the meantime, let’s delve a little into what a possible legal sports betting landscape in Florida could look like.
Florida sportsbook apps
The first app to go live in the state was a surprise, but also not a surprise. Hard Rock Sportsbook from the Seminole Tribe of Florida was a given considering the 2021 tribal compact. Here is a closer look at the Hard Rock app:
- Hard Rock Sportsbook: UPDATE – The Hard Rock Sportsbook app has suspended its operations as of December 2021 amid ongoing legal struggles in Florida.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, FL, is a top destination. A Hard Rock online and retail sportsbook in only a couple of states, but this is, after all, the Seminoles’ home state. So, even though everything is on hold right now, it’s no surprise that the first app to debut in Florida is the Hard Rock app.
However, pari-mutuel facilities in the state can partner with the tribe to offer retail and online betting, but there are limitations there as well. For one, the model as outlined in the tribal compact is a “hub and spoke” structure. This means that the Seminoles are the exclusive licensee (the hub) and any pari-mutuel deals down the road are the spokes, splitting the profits with the tribe.
As such, it is hard to say what other legal Florida online sports betting site will be available to customers. Here we make some educated guesses.
- DraftKings Sportsbook: DraftKings has become a go-to option for scores of bettors in a number of legal states. The company is far from finished on the expansion front, so Florida is most certainly on the to-do list. Highlights for users include a slick platform with lots of innovative features.
- Caesars Sportsbook: Caesars Sportsbook, after acquiring UK-brand William Hill, is on its way to becoming a pretty big deal in the US sports betting space. The team behind the scenes brings a wealth of experience to the table. That translates into strong attention to detail, including on its mobile platform.
- BetMGM Sportsbook: BetMGM has become one of the top names to keep an eye on for US legal sports betting. An advertising blitz has helped draw attention, but it is also backed up with a great app that features all of the markets and bets you could ask for.
- FanDuel Sportsbook: User-friendly apps that look great and run smoothly have a way of bringing users into the fold. That’s what the FanDuel sportsbook app has going for it, and it’s a big part of the reason why the company has become a market leader in a number of legal states.
How to start betting online in Florida
In many states, users can complete the entire registration process online or via app. This is how it is in Florida, too. Online sportsbooks are available statewide and it only takes a few minutes to sign up and start betting. When doing so, new users have to enter some basic information:
- Email address
- Date of birth
- Social Security number, last four digits
If the sportsbook can’t verify your identity or age based on the information you’ve supplied, then you’ll need to provide supporting documentation. To use state-specific sports betting apps, there’s typically no residency requirement. However, you do need to be within state lines when playing. To verify that you are, sportsbooks rely on what’s known as geolocation tracking, software that runs in the background and only tracks for the purposes of using the app.
On the usability front, the competitive market has directly resulted in some excellent options for consumers to consider. You can perform all of the necessary functions online or via app without any need to visit a retail sportsbook, including funding, wagering, and line shopping. The hope is that Florida will do the same and allow remote registration.
What is the legal gambling age in Florida?
Florida is distinct in that it has split rules on the legal age for current forms of approved gambling. In order to play bingo, lottery, poker and parimutuel wagering for jai alai and dog or horse races, you must be 18 or older. For those casino table games, slots, and video poker, you must be 21 or older. Exactly what this means for sports betting will likely become clear as the rules process moves forward, but most legal states require players to be 21.
Sports betting partnerships in Florida
In a number of legal sports betting states, pro teams and sportsbooks have struck sponsorship deals. For the sportsbooks, it’s another means of advertising their offerings to fans. Other deals can and could lead to market access. Since wagering isn’t legal in Florida just yet, no deals have been inked, but it’s safe to assume that there will be some down the road.
The Miami Dolphins play home games at Hard Rock Stadium, which has also played host to several Super Bowls. The team has also previously signed a strategic partnership with daily fantasy sports operator Monkey Knife Fight. There could end up being a sportsbook at Hard Rock sometime in the future, so a promotional deal of some kind seems likely.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have also been linked with MKF, and there’s also a Seminole Hard Rock Casino & Hotel in the area. In year’s past, the state’s MLB, NBA and NHL teams have had promotional partnerships with various casino and gambling entities. It’ll be interesting to see what develops in the Sunshine State as the sports betting market evolves.
Futures and prop betting in Florida
Consumers have plenty of betting options at their disposal. Beyond the various books battling for market share, users will also have plenty of games to consider and ways to bet on each. The main pregame bets — moneylines betting, point spreads and totals betting — top the list, but that’s not the end of the story.
Among the other popular options is futures betting. These are wagers that let you project an outcome that won’t be known until a much later date. Since that’s a pretty popular pastime for sports fans in general, the appeal of doing that and placing wagers. Top options are as follows:
You can also place your bets on the winners of major individual awards, such as the NFL MVP or the Cy Young awards in MLB. Choices abound for individual sports, as well, with futures on top events like tennis Grand Slams, golf majors and the Daytona 500. Futures odds come out in advance of the event, and the market stays active from there.
Another popular area of wagering is prop betting. These are additional ways to wager on games. It’s like getting in some side action on something that may happen during the contest outside of the actual result. Props can be based on an entire game, team performance or individual players.
- Will Tua Tagovailoa have a rushing touchdown in the game — yes/no?
- How many points plus assists for Jimmy Butler — over/under 28.5?
- Who will have more total bases in the game — Austin Meadows or Gleyber Torres?
As a general rule, the more popular the game or event, the more props you’ll see available. For example, there will be plenty available for the average NFL game, but you’ll see hundreds of options for the Super Bowl. Find props by clicking on the individual game listings at online sportsbooks.
Live betting in Florida
Live betting has been a popular option for bettors. These are wagers you can place in real time as events play out, with the odds and offerings shifting based on what’s happening. In Florida, you can find all of the major options available, including live betting.
All of the major sportsbooks offer live betting online and via app. There will be updated game lines to reflect the new reality of what’s happening in the game, as well as plenty of prop-style wagers:
- What will be the result of this power play — goal/kill?
- How many rushing yards for the Dolphins in the second half — over/under 89.5?
- Total innings for Sandy Alcantara — over/under 5.5?
It can be easy, however, to get caught up in the excitement, so always approach live betting with a clear plan and budget, and stick to it no matter what.
Florida sports teams to bet on
If you’re a sports fan, Florida is full of options. All of the major pro leagues are represented. That means there’s some fractured fan interests, but also plenty of choices to explore for those who like to focus their bets at the local level.
- NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- NBA: Miami Heat, Orlando Magic
- MLB: Miami Marlins, Tampa Bay Rays
- NHL: Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning
- MLS: Inter Miami CF
For all of the above, bettors will have plenty of wagers to consider all season long. The state is also packed with major collegiate programs like the University of Florida, Florida State and Miami, as well as top smaller programs such as Central Florida. The state’s approach to wagering on college sports will be a key area to watch.
Some states, such as NJ, allow wagering on college football and basketball but prohibit betting on in-state teams or on games taking place within the state. Neighboring Pennsylvania, meanwhile, has no such restrictions in place. In all legal states, wagering on high school sports or sports where the majority of participants are minors isn’t allowed, so we can expect the same in Florida.
Where to bet on sports in Florida
As sports betting lawsuits are sorted out in Florida, another key area to keep an eye on will be what happens with the retail side of things. Retail books could be coming to the state’s casinos and horse betting facilities. The only casinos that are legally able to open a sportsbook are those owned by the Seminole Tribe. Horse betting facilities must broker a deal with the tribe in order to offer sports betting. Naturally, everything is subject to change, but here’s a look at the potential landing spots.
Hard Rock casinos and pari-mutuel facilities
- Seminole Casino Brighton, Okeechobee
- Seminole Casino Hotel, Immokalee
- Seminole Casino, Coconut Creek
- Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Hollywood
- Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Tampa
- Seminole Classic Casino, Hollywood
- Tampa Bay Downs, Tampa
- Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino, Hallandale Beach
- Hialeah Park Race Track, Hialeah
- Calder Casino & Race Course, Miami Gardens