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Florida Licensed Sports Betting Soon: October Launch Possible

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The State of Florida is set to introduce legal sports betting to its residents, with a date of Oct. 15 marked down as the official launch time. It was just a couple of weeks ago that the 45-day federal consideration period expired for the new compact between the Seminole Tribe and the state itself. Rather than enact any kind of action, the Department of the Interior allowed the agreement to pass through. Yet, even with the October launch date in place, a series of lawsuits could abruptly halt the process.

Court battles are expected to take place as various opponents to the agreement feel that it violates the Constitution of Florida. No Casinos Inc. - an organization that currently leads the fight against gambling expansion taking place in Florida – has plans in place to tackle The Florida Gaming Compact. Because of this, it could still be an uphill struggle for Florida to actually get sports betting off the ground.

Sports equipment and tickets on a Florida flag

Department of the Interior Leans Neither Way

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The compact in question, which will see the Seminole Tribe of Florida have exclusive rights to providing online and retail sports betting, was given neither a seal of approval nor an outright denial by the Department of the Interior. Letters were simply sent out to both the tribe and the state, which explained as much. However, without a decision being made by the Department regarding the compact, after a 45-day period, it was considered approved. That comes about due to provisions within the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act as well as other federal law.

The compact was entered into the Federal Register on August 11, cementing its position for the time being.

Sports betting has been a long time coming for Floridians. Governor Ron DeSantis actually signed the compact several months ago and consent was given for it by legislators in May. Through it, the Seminole Tribe will be able to provide legal online and land-based sports betting options for residents to take advantage of. It is also the case that racetracks within Florida can provide online betting although the servers for such must be installed on tribal lands too.

So how has the tribe managed to garner this exclusive right to offering sports betting? To put it bluntly, it’s going to pay! The Seminole Tribe has committed, through the compact, to provide at least $500 million in annual revenue payments to the State of Florida. Those payments will take place over the next 30 years, resulting in income for the state of at least $15 billion once that timeframe is up.

The compact was actually given the backing of multiple big-name gaming companies, such as DraftKings and FanDuel. And with DraftKings being an official DFS partner of the NFL, in a roundabout way, the country’s major football league is also in support of the compact. Even the Las Vegas Sands casino and resort company voiced its support for the introduction of sports betting in Florida. Around $37 million was donated towards ballot initiatives in order to get sports betting legalized and active in The Sunshine State.

Things may not be so sunny if the opposition gets its way though.

No Casinos Inc. Focuses on Amendment 3

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It would be understandable to think that once a sports betting bill or compact is approved by the state, the road will be an easy one to travel. Well, as it happens, it isn’t in Florida's case. Issues are still in place that have the potential to halt the compact and set things into reverse.

As things stand, a lawsuit is pending in federal court that questions the validity of the compact between the tribe and Florida. At the same time, there are two ballot initiatives in place, which look to stop the Seminole Tribe from holding the monopoly on the sports betting scene and stop the expansion of casino games across Florida respectively.

The two groups that are listed in the lawsuit filed against the introduction of the compact are West Flager Associates and Bonita-Fort Corporation. Within that suit, it is claimed that the section of the compact that allows sports betting to take place at racetracks (locations outside of tribal lands) actually violates the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. As well as this, the lawsuit suggests that the whole compact violates the country’s Wire Act of 1961 and the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA), introduced in 2006.

The opposition contends that the compact is actually highly unconstitutional considering that it allows online gambling to take place within Florida even if servers are based on tribal lands. As it happens, that setup was crafted so as to bypass the state laws and federal laws.

It is said by the opponents of the compact that it operates as an expansion of gambling within The Sunshine State, and this is something that must be approved by voters. Florida’s Amendment 3, which provides Floridians with the power to decide on any gambling expansion, was introduced in November of 2018. In order for the approval of Amendment 3 to occur, it required a 60% supermajority vote. It acquired this, going well beyond the necessary level with 71.47% of Floridians voting in favor of it.

With this being the case, those who are against the introduction of sports betting and gambling expansion across Florida have a strong argument because the new tribal compact was not put to a vote at the ballot. No Casinos Inc. suggests that the compact not only violates the state constitution and federal law but that it also ignores the will of the people by forcing the largest expansion of gambling in Florida’s history.

Florida to Become Most Populous State Offering Sports Betting

Crowd of People

Plenty of discussions have taken place over Florida introducing legal sports betting ever since the Supreme Court overruled the PASPA law three years ago. Unfortunately, initial delays came about because the state was not able to come to a satisfactory agreement with the Seminole Tribe.

By the end of 2020, a few sports betting bills had been submitted prior to the start of the 2021 session. And while State Senator Jeff Brandes did put forward a collection of bills aiming to introduce mobile sports betting with the Florida Lottery as the official regulator, the bills neglected to consider the tribe. Despite those bills being unsuccessful, they did serve to open up a new dialogue between the tribe and the state governor. And it was this that led to the compact being created.

Initially, plans were in place to legalize daily fantasy sports and online casino games alongside sports betting in Florida. However, those extra options were fairly swiftly removed from consideration, and the sports betting compact was commissioned into law. Should all the details be ironed out and found to be legal, Florida will become the most populous U.S. state to introduce sports betting to its residents.

Current Legal Options for Floridians to Access

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Even though some are trying to block the introduction of legal sports betting within Florida, various sites exist offshore that cater to the sports betting market of the state. Online sports betting, poker and other options can be accessed at these platforms from within Florida. And if you want to involve yourself in such without waiting around for the potential Oct. 15 launch date, check out our guide to the best online sportsbooks for Americans. We have compiled related information about USA internet casinos and separate guides to Florida online poker sites and offshore poker USA info for the rest of the country.