2021 has seen some big steps towards sports betting legalization. Two major states in particular embraced legal sports betting this year, with Arizona and Connecticut making the needed moves to launch sports wagering just in time for the ever-popular football season. Both states have seen plenty of success since the initiation of sports betting, and you can expect more states (and plenty of provinces in Canada) to open up the doors for sportsbooks through the end of 2021 and into 2022. However, one state in particular that got a taste of sports wagering this month saw everything come crashing down immediately. Here’s how one state’s efforts to become the next big stop for sports bettors have suddenly vanished into thin air.
Florida Sports Betting Struck Down
In May of this year, a gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe was fully approved by Florida legislature, which officially paved the way for legal sports betting in the state. The target date of October 15th, however, was troubled by the number of following lawsuits, and a fairly quiet launch on November 1st came instead. But now, a ruling by Judge Dabney L. Friedrich has ensured that the Seminole Tribe won’t be the sole name in the sports betting market, and puts an immediate stop to sports wagering in the state.
The ruling by Judge Friedrich declares that the formerly approved compact violates the current federal gaming law, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in particular, thus breaching the entire agreement. This puts sports wagering in Florida, despite having a small presence already, in complete limbo in terms of expansion. The compact, which was meant to be a 30-year agreement, had the Seminoles paying a minimum total of $2.5 billion in its first five years for the tribe to completely control sports betting in the state. The compact, which was approved by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior and Florida Legislature with a signature from Governor Ron DeSantis, also gave the tribes the opportunity to add craps and roulette games to their casino locations.
What Happens Next?
Despite this ruling, both the Seminole Tribe and the state of Florida are likely to appeal the decision. This is according to gambling expert and Florida lawyer Daniel Wallach, who doesn’t expect much to change after the Judge’s conclusion. Some other options still exist as well, such as coming up with a statutory regime that doesn’t go against current gaming laws or even add an amendment to the 2022 ballots.
What Sportsbooks Were Running in Florida?
Despite sports betting technically being legalized in Florida since November 1st, only one sportsbook ended up rolling out in the Sunshine State. Hard Rock Florida launched in Florida early this month, and was the only platform available for sports bettors before the recent halt on sports betting in the state. Although the Hard Rock Sportsbook might not be as well known as DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, or BetMGM Sportsbook, the platform was the only one that allowed sports fans in the state to place wagers on sporting events before this recent stoppage.