Florida state law has yet to change to accommodate widespread legalization of online gambling as it has in many other states. There have been several attempts to leaglize, online sports betting in Florida that have all been shut down. Existing state law is not favorable for any type of online gambling.
Florida 2021 Sports Betting Update
Florida sports betting is making moves in 2021. Three different bills have entered the State legislature from the House, and the Senate looks primed to also be ready to make a push. The Sunshine State lies in an odd spot with the fact that the Seminole Gaming Tribe runs just about all the gambling in the state.
Another interesting fact is that technically the Flordia residents have the final say in all casino gambling expansions. This means that there may have to be a vote to legalize sports gambling in the state.
Regardless, both politicians, casinos, and sportsbook operators remain confident that sports betting can and will happen in 2021. The Flordia State Congress will be looking at these bills when it is in session March 2nd-April 30th.
2021 Bills Introduced
Currently, there are three bills in the House that are ready to be discussed and voted on in Florida. It is worth noting that there is no reference to the Seminole Tribe, who control the gambling scene in the Sunshine State. These bills would go into effect in October if passed by the Florida legislature.
HB 1317: Sports Wagering
HB 1317 is the first general bill and was introduced by Chip LaMarca, a Republican member of the Florida House. This bill would establish wagering on sporting events and sets the general rules like requiring annual licenses, specifying legal wagers, and many other general outlining. This is the first key bill as it is the framework and actual legalization of sports betting in the state.
However, all three of these need to be passed for legal sports betting to happen.
HB 1319: Taxes/Sports Wagering
HB 1319 was introduced by Anika Omphroy, a democratic member of the Florida House. This is a good display of the bipartisan support for sports gambling in the Sunshine State. This bill sets the tax rates as well as penalties for sports wagering within the state. It sets a massive 22.5% gross revenue tax rate on the sportsbook, which would be the highest in the country.
HB 1321: Fees/Sports Wagering
The final bill, HB 1321, was once again introduced by Chip LaMarca. This bill lists the application and licensing fees for sports wagering within Florida. The annual fee for a license would be $1,000,000. It is clear that Florida realizes how valuable the state can be for sportsbooks and has no fear of charging high fees and running a high tax rate in the state.
The Next Step for Florida
The biggest obstacle preventing Florida from moving forward with authorizing online and sports gambling throughout the state is the Seminole Tribe. The current agreement in place gives the Seminole Tribe a monopoly on all casino card games, in particular games like Blackjack, Roulette, and Slots. If sports betting and other types of online betting become legal, it’s certain that the Seminole gaming industry would take a hit, and this has been a major concern among legislators throughout the state. Many Floridians flock to these casinos every day where they can earn winnings. But while many sports gambling laws have changed over the last 50 years, Florida has not.
The Florida legislature will meet in March, and then discussion and voting will commence on the three bills. As more states continue to pass legislation, Florida is more likely follow suit. The existing compact between the state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe is the biggest hindrance towards moving towards a legal sports gambling system.
Florida is one of the most popular places for sports around the country with three NFL teams, two major league baseball teams, two NBA teams, and two NHL teams. Additionally, college football is even more popular with the Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, and Miami Hurricanes leading the way. Sports betting would be extremely popular in the state, and sportsbooks would benefit greatly should regulation be put in place.
We will see what happens in March and if any progress is made on the betting front. Stay tuned, Floridians. Legal gambling is coming; it just may take some time.
Possible Online Sportsbooks
Just about every major sportsbook will be attempting to figure out a way to get a license in Florida. The state is relatively wealthy and has one of the largest populations at 21.48 million as of 2021. The state also houses tons of sports teams and collegiate programs.
DraftKings is the current leader in sports betting. If online and mobile wagering becomes legal within the state, DraftKings will be entering. DraftKings started out only as a daily fantasy sports platform but has moved into both sports wagering and the online casino scene.
DraftKings has one of the very best mobile applications for sports betting. It is easy to use, there are tons of promotions, and the company has some of the best odds pricing in the game.
Currently, in states with legal DraftKings Sportsbooks, you can get a welcome bonus that includes a $1,000 deposit match bonus and a $50 free bet. The deposit match is a 1 to 5 match. So, $5,000 gets you the full $1,000 match.
FanDuel Sportsbook is another large competitor in the United States’ market. FanDuel is another company that started off as an online fantasy platform. However, after Flutter Entertainment acquired the company, FanDuel became a massive sports wagering entity as well.
FanDuel may have the cleanest and best mobile and online experience when it comes to sports betting. Everything is easy to find, and there is no clutter on the site. The technology is simply superior to most online sportsbooks. There are also plenty of ongoing promotions. FanDuel also offers one-game parlays, something rare in the sports betting world.
Most experts expect FanDuel to continue to offer its classic welcome bonus of a $1,000 risk-free bet if it were to join the Florida betting market. This is a huge value, and you could potentially win a boatload of money without risking anything with this risk-free wager.
BetMGM Sportsbook is the online application launched by MGM Resorts International and Entain. These two are major players in the gambling market throughout the world. MGM is renowned for being one of the biggest gambling and hospitality companies, while Entain is a staple in the online gaming scene.
BetMGM runs a fantastic sportsbook as well as an online casino and online poker platform. The sportsbook is known for being one of the most popular with its trusted name and good value. BetMGM offers one of the widest arrays of bets in the United States sports betting market.
BetMGM is projected to offer a $600 risk-free bet to Florida, as this is the welcome bonus available in all states that BetMGM runs its online sports betting platform in.
William Hill Sportsbook
William Hill is a British bookmaker that currently operates as a legal and licensed sportsbook in several states. William Hill is not one of the unregulated offshore companies that legislatures often refer to. The company only offers wagering in states that it is licensed in.
For those of you who like betting on European sports, William Hill is a great option. Not only does it have all the American sports wagers, but due to its European roots, it has tons of bets for European soccer, Formula 1, European golf, and more available on its platform.
William Hill offers a $300 to $500 risk-free bet depending on the state. It is likely that William Hill will continue this offer if it expands to Florida.
PointsBet is an Australian bookmaker that also only operates in states that it is licensed in. In America, it is partnered with NBC Sports. The sportsbook is known for offering tons of different ways to wager, like using its invented PointsBetting system.
PointsBet not only offers tons of unique ways to wager, but it also has one of the best platforms available. The mobile app, as well as the desktop site, are designed beautifully and function very well. It is very easy to find the perfect wager for you on PointsBet.
PointsBet has one of the best welcome bonuses as it offers $2,000 worth of risk-free wagers for new users in states that it currently operates in.
Florida Sports Betting Questions & Answers
Frequently Asked Questions
The timeline for sports betting in Florida depends on who you talk to. Like California, the tribal casino regulations may prove a stumbling block. Most insist sports betting will overcome these hurdles. One option being discussed is to have online sportsbooks available through these tribal casino locations in 2021.
FanDuel is watching the progress of legislation in the Florida legislation very closely. Like other sportsbook apps that seek to be a part of a potentially lucrative Florida betting market, FanDuel hopes to be legal when partnerships are offered with tribal casinos.
DraftKings is not one of the legal sports betting options in Florida. In fact, until legislators address the concerns of the state’s tribal casino industry, there are no legal sports betting options written into Florida law for anyone inside the state’s borders.
Like Texas, Florida is one of the six states in the country that does not assess an income tax. There is no official tax amount on any type of lottery winnings in Florida. However, all winnings above $5,000, online or retail, must be reported as income to the IRS.
There is a proposed tax rate for Florida sports betting of 15 percent. This would be administered as an excise tax on the total sportsbook handle. Sports betting by individuals is still illegal in the state. Winnings from outside sports bets would be taxed at the 24 percent federal amount.
Similar to the situation in California, the Native American Casinos have a stranglehold on the gambling industry in Florida. Many lawmakers envision a similar struggle when any debate reaches the floor in Tallahassee on how the sports betting landscape will unfold in the Sunshine State.
The residents of Florida actually have the final say on all gaming expansions in the state. This was following a vote where the voters gave themselves this power in Florida. This means that despite the tribal casino powers, the voters in the state have a significant say in the matter.
Yes, Florida has daily fantasy sports. There are several options, including Underdog, DraftKings, FanDuel, and Yahoo Daily Fantasy Sports, to play within the state. Daily and season-long fantasy sports are fully legal in Florida. The profit made from playing is taxable income.
You can play at tribal casinos in Florida, but currently, there are no online casinos available in Florida. If Florida were to legalize sports gambling, it is also very likely that online casino games could follow and be legalized. Right now, only in-person casinos are legal.
The size of the Florida betting market could be massive. Many experts project a sports betting handle passing $2 billion a month in the state. However, seeing what New Jersey was able to do in 2020, passing $1 billion, this estimate may be considered conservative.
Current Landscape in Florida
There are 26 gambling venues that currently operate in Florida. Most of these venues are racetracks, which are currently lobbying for the right to add slot machines at their facilities to enhance revenues. There are eight Native American casinos and two casino boats that pick up passengers and take wagers once the boats are offshore. Some of the Native American casinos offer both slot machines and table games, while others offer slots and video gaming. Simply stated, gambling in Florida is much more limited than it is in the Northeast as commercial casinos, and some forms of games are not permitted in the state. In addition to the casinos, there are live poker rooms as well as a vibrant horse racing industry.
Physical Casinos in Florida
Here is a list of some of the casinos that are currently operating in the state. There are also dozens of racinos available in the Sunshine State.
Miccosukee Resort and Gaming Center
Address: SW 177th Ave, Miami, FL 33194
Phone: (305) 222-4600
Seminole Brighton Casino
Address: 17735 Reservation Rd, Okeechobee, FL 34974
Phone: (800) 360-9875
Seminole Casino Hotel Immokalee
Address:506 S 1st St, Immokalee, FL 34142
Phone: (239) 658-1313
Seminole Casino Coconut Creek
Address: 5550 NW 40th St, Coconut Creek, FL 33073
Phone: (954) 977-6700
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Hollywood
Address: 1 Seminole Way, Davie, FL 33314
Phone: (866) 502-7529
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa
Address: 5223 Orient Rd, Tampa, FL 33610
Phone: (866) 388-4263
Seminole Classic Casino Hollywood
Address: 4150 N State Rd 7, Hollywood, FL 33021
Phone: (954) 961-3220
Daily Fantasy Sports
Even DFS is a dicey proposition in Florida. There is a 1991 opinion from the state’s Attorney General stating that certain forms of fantasy sports would likely be illegal under state law. Nevertheless, DraftKings and FanDuel have taken the risk to remain in Florida, notwithstanding the possibility that offering these games could be illegal under Florida law. Yahoo has pulled out of the Florida market for its DFS offerings due to the legal risk. There have been several attempts to legalize DFS in the state, but each has fallen short. The tribal casinos have vigorously fought the legalization of DFS in Florida, claiming that it violates their rights to exclusivity in the Florida gaming market. Since DFS is not explicitly legal in Florida, there are no reports required, and it is difficult to tell the size of the DFS market in Florida. This scenario wouldn’t fly with sports betting. FanDuel Sportsbook, DraftKings Sportsbook nor Pointsbet sportsbook would enter the online sportsbook space without explicitly sports betting laws in place.
Previous Legislative Efforts
Efforts to legalize online gaming in Florida originate in 2011. There was a failed attempt to legalize online poker. The bill would have allowed card room operators to offer intrastate online poker. The bill was offered before Black Friday and was a means to offer consumer protection for gamblers who were betting on the national online poker sites. At the time, the Uniform Internet Gaming Enforcement Act was in effect, but the federal government had yet to crack down on online poker operators. The bill was referred to the subcommittee and was subsequently withdrawn. The bill was reintroduced in 2012 but similarly failed after opposition from the tribal casinos. Multiple efforts to expand gaming in various forms have all ended in failure.
Instead of expanding gaming, in 2013, Florida cut back on gambling in Florida, outlawing internet cafés that offered players the chance to enter contests in exchange for buying online time at the café. Some of these contests included online poker. The language of this legislation was incredibly broad and can be applied to many forms of gambling, increasing the uncertainty for those who offer and play certain games.
Florida law actually makes it illegal for residents to partake in unregulated gambling, such as offshore sports betting. Most state laws put the onus on operators who accept bets, but Florida also outlaws playing poker at an unregulated facility or over an unregulated device. Thus, it would be illegal for Florida residents to play online poker on an offshore platform. However, there have been no efforts to enforce the law against individual players.
November Ballot Initiative
Currently, there are powerful forces arrayed against gaming expansion in Florida. Disney and the Seminole Tribe are allied in lobbying for an amendment to the Florida Constitution that would require voters to approve any expansion of gaming in the state as opposed to the governor and legislature. This has been placed on the ballot for the election this coming November, and the prospects for passage are unclear, although 60 percent of the votes are required for passage. The current Florida Governor, Rick Scott, has long been an opponent of gaming in the state. In addition, the Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has issued numerous opinions against gambling and remains a steadfast opponent. However, these two state officials are term-limited out of office and will be replaced in January 2019, giving some hope to gambling proponents.
The tribal casinos are very influential in the state, and they will likely have a say in the form that any future gaming expansion would take. The tribe has deep pockets and has not been reticent to expend large amounts of money to advance its interests, as witnessed by its efforts supporting the November ballot initiative. For the tribe, if the anti-gambling forces prevail, it will perpetuate its dominant position in the state’s gambling market. Passage of the amendment may not necessarily end the prospects for gaming expansion in the state since expansion will be subject to the will of the voters. Voters could ultimately choose to expand gaming in Florida, including sports wagering, especially if they see neighboring states expanding gaming.
Future Gambling Prospects
Future gambling prospects in Florida are unclear, and the range of outcomes varies widely. In the event that control of the state’s political apparatus changes in November and the legislature retains control over gaming expansion, it could result in a rapid gaming expansion in the state. The complicating issue would be the state’s agreement with the Seminole Tribe, whereby the tribe pays the state roughly $250 million per year for the right to operate in the state. In the event that gaming is expanded, it could jeopardize the money that the state receives. At the same time, the Seminoles could tie up the gaming expansion in the courts as they would file suit to protect what they believe is their exclusive right to offer certain types of gaming in the state.