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Will Floridians ever be able to place sports bets online?

As soon as it got here, Florida sports betting vanished. After a succession of court judgements opposing the legality of sports betting in the state, Hard Rock was forced to withdraw its Sportsbook app on 4 December, 2021.

The Sportsbook app has been available for a little more than a month. The Seminole Tribe is now appealing a court judgment that nullified the 2021 Florida gaming compact.

Meanwhile, FanDuel and DraftKings are collaborating on a ballot effort to authorize extensive online sports betting. That might appear on the ballot in November 2022. If approved, sports betting in Florida might begin in 2023.

Now that the future of mobile sports betting in Florida is at a turning point, the federal government just took the first step in appealing a judge’s decision to overturn an agreement that handed the Seminole Tribe authority over sports betting in the state.

Is online sports betting legal in Florida?

While sports betting is legal in the state of Florida, the problem is that there are currently no sports betting apps. The Hard Rock Sportsbook app was expected to launch in early November 2021, but it was pulled in December following many legal proceedings. The Tribe is filing an appeal.

State officials and the Seminole Tribe reached an agreement, termed as a compact, in early 2021 to introduce mobile Florida sports betting to the Sunshine State as soon as possible. The Department of the Interior permitted the tribe compact, which would authorize FL sports betting to be posted in the Federal Register in August. This has not yet been approved, but it allows the compact to proceed.

What are the details of the appeal?

The Department of the Interior, which supervises tribal gambling, filed a notice of intent to appeal a judgment by U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich in Washington, D.C., that nullified a 30-year pact struck by Gov. Ron DeSantis and tribe leaders, which was passed by state lawmakers in May. There was a deadline for the federal agency to file a notice of appeal. The notification, as is customary, did not disclose specifics about the points that will be raised in the appeal.

The gambling agreement granted the Seminoles authority over internet sports betting throughout Florida, and enabled the tribe to expand its current casino operations to include craps and roulette. In addition, the Seminoles would be permitted to build three casinos on their Broward County territory.

In exchange, the tribe agreed to pay the state at least $2.5 billion during the first five years, and perhaps billions more over the course of the 30-year agreement. The agreement also added Florida to the list of states that have entered the sports betting market after a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision that allowed such gambling in New Jersey.

The “hub-and-spoke” sports-betting strategy in Florida’s compact was supposed to allow gamblers from all across the state to place bets online, with the bets being processed via computer servers on tribal territory. Bets placed anywhere in Florida “through a mobile app or even using other electronic devices shall be regarded to be solely operated by the tribe”, according to the agreement.

What happened to the Hard Rock Sportsbook app and why?

Hard Rock Sportsbook has halted operations for its sports betting app after a federal district court refused a plea to postpone a verdict that barred the Seminole Tribe’s gambling expansion while it appealed. However, there are numerous unanswered issues concerning what would happen to the money generated when the app was in service.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida stated that the ban is just brief and that all existing gamers’ accounts will be repaid as required. The tribe attempted to submit a request to suspend the decision to prohibit its agreement with the state government to grow online sports betting and other gaming activities throughout Florida.

Attorneys for the tribe argued that the request was required to avoid a major loss of revenue. However, U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich objected, ruling that the tribe had failed to demonstrate irreparable damage.

Regardless of the decision, the Seminole Tribe said in a statement:

“The Seminole Tribe looks forward to working with the State of Florida and the United States Department of Justice to aggressively defend the validity of the 2021 Compact before the Appeals Court, which has yet to rule on the merits of the 2021 Compact.”

The Seminole Tribe of Florida, the State of Florida, and the United States all acknowledge that the 2021 Compact is legitimate.

Timeline outlining the events

As of now, this is what is has been happening in Florida sports betting:

  • Feb 21, 2022 – DraftKings CEO Jason Robins stated that he is “extremely certain” that sportsbooks would be able to place a question on the ballot in Florida for sports betting in 2024.
  • Feb 11, 2022 – In the Florida sports betting compact case, the Department of Justice submitted its “Statement of Issues on Appeal,” outlining why it is appealing.
  • Jan 31, 2022 – FanDuel and DraftKings accepted defeat on their ballot issue, which means that broad commercial sports betting in Florida would not be available until 2025.
  • Jan 14, 2022 – DraftKings provided free bets to all Florida sports betting clients if they collected the required 892,000 signatures for a ballot issue. Dave Portnoy of Barstool Sports sent out a video encouraging Floridians to join up as well.
  • Dec. 17, 2021 – FanDuel and DraftKings had a difficult struggle to gather the 900,000 signatures required to place a sports betting inquiry on the 2022 ballot. In the following two weeks, they needed to gather roughly 300,000 additional signatures.
  • Dec. 4, 2021 – Following a succession of court judgements challenging the legitimacy of sports betting in Florida, the Seminole Tribe removed the Hard Rock Sportsbook app. The Tribe made an appeal.
  • Nov. 22, 2021 – The compact involving Florida and the Seminoles was declared null and void by a federal court. However, the Hard Rock continued to accept bets while appealing the verdict.
  • Nov. 10, 2021 – In the District of Columbia, the Federal Government filed additional arguments. According to the argument, state law should allow betting on tribal land. A judgment is expected by 15th November, 2021.
  • Nov. 1, 2021 — In Florida, the Seminole Tribe released its Hard Rock online sportsbook app. While it was being challenged in court, the app was available in the entire state without in-person registration required.

Which online sportsbooks can you find in Florida?

All of the top Florida sportsbooks offer apps, or at the very least exceptionally mobile-friendly interfaces. You’ll have no issue betting on sports in Florida, even if one is using a tablet, laptop, cell phone, or anything else. These sportsbooks include:

If you want to take a look at what’s available in other states, you can check out sites such as BonusFinder, who have updated lists of sites available in each area. For example, here’s a list of new online casinos in New Jersey, to give you an idea of what might soon be available in Florida.

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