Florida sports betting has remained in limbo after the market briefly launched and was shut down in 2021. Governor Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe of Florida signed a gaming compact to allow legal sports betting in Florida, which was ultimately ruled unconstitutional by the DC Circuit court.
An ongoing appeal case has left the market stagnant ever since.
Florida Sports Betting Complications
Judge Dabney Friedrich ruled against the Florida compact due to the nature of online sports betting being available, based on the language. Judge Friedrich argued that the compact only allowed for in-person betting on tribal grounds and that the Seminoles were breaking the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) by accepting bets online.
“It is well-settled that IGRA authorizes sports betting only on Indian lands,” wrote Friedrich. “It is equally clear that the Secretary must reject compacts that violate IGRA’s terms.”
This decision made Florida the only state to go live and shut down since PASPA’s repeal. The Florida Seminoles repealed this decision and the ongoing court battle has prevented another compact from being written.
In addition, commercial sportsbooks failed to gather enough signatures to add sports betting to the Florida ballot for the November elections. This was in large part due to the successful ad campaign run by the Florida Seminoles rejecting commercial sportsbooks efforts in the Sunshine State.
Current State Of Florida Sports Betting
In August 2022, Florida Attorney General Ashely Moody filed briefs with the intent of reinstating the sports betting market. This was supported by the US Department of Justice and the Biden Administration who all support the decision to initially approve sports betting in Florida.
“The secretary has no duty — nor even any authority — to disapprove a compact that validly authorizes gaming on Indian lands simply because the compact also contemplates that the state will enact legislation permitting persons outside Indian lands to participate in that gaming,” wrote lawyers for the U.S. Department of Justice.
The appeal currently sitting in the DC Circuit Court has been supported by the Biden Administration as well, with urgings for a conclusion coming directly from the administration. Despite this push, experts on the Florida betting market do not believe that the appeal will be successful.
“By trying to shoehorn online sports betting through a federally regulated and federally authorized compact, they were taking a possible violation of state law and transforming it to an almost definite violation of federal law,” said Daniel Wallach, sports betting expert and attorney. “It’s incomprehensible to me that the state would make that calculation, and not only that, but grant a monopoly to a single stakeholder in the state of Florida.”
The US Court of Appeals did announce a timetable for the appeal, with early 2023 as the deadline for a final decision to be made. The decision, either for or against the appeal, will open the door for sports betting to progress in Florida. Whether it be a continuation of the gaming compact or the ability for the Sunshine State to work towards another gaming compact.
Until then, legal Florida sports betting remains in a stagnant state as the final decision looms. Florida continues to be one of the more interesting markets in the sports betting industry.