Florida, with a population of 21.477million (2019 data), is one of the biggest prizes for sportsbooks in the United States, but most of them are likely to miss out on the action.
In April 2021, almost three years after SCOTUS struck down PASPA to pave the way for legal sports betting, ‘The Sunshine State’ finally ushered in a new world. But the deal comes with headaches, and likely a very limited offering for bettors. Even that plane has so far failed to become a reality after a bid to get it on the 2022 ballot turned into a loss for the likes of DraftKings and FanDuel – which not surprisingly were backing it. Now we will need to wait a while for only sports betting to finally become legal.
The sheer size and population of Florida means it’s ripe to make significant revenues from sports betting when it finally does happen. It is also jam-packed with enough major sports teams to ensure an engaged fanbase.
In the National Football League there are multiple Florida franchises – including Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Miami Dolphins and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Miami Heat is a major player of the National Basketball Association, while the Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays operate in baseball’s MLB.
College sports are also strong in Florida, with major local schools and their teams including the Florida Gators, the Florida State Seminoles and the Miami Hurricanes, also known as ‘The U’.
Is sports betting legal in Florida?
Sports betting is still in the process of becoming legal in the state of Florida but right now there is no specific end in sight to the process.
On April 23, 2021, Governor Ron DeSantis inked a new 30-year gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe. The Florida House passed the new deal in May 2021 and now it awaits federal approval. If forthcoming, this should be in July.
The new compact meant the Seminole had the exclusive rights to operate digital betting locally. The state gets guaranteed annual revenues of at least $500million.
The good news was that statewide online betting was included in the deal. The bad news is there are only likely to be two skins. One of which would go to the Seminole’s Hard Rock brand.
Failure to get it on that 2022 ballot though have now derailed the regulatory process.
While revenues should still be strong when Florida does eventually open up, don’t expect a competitive landscape when it comes to odds or signup bonuses. Your choices likely will be pretty limited.
It is easy to see why Florida did its 2021 deal – years of legal battles appeared at that stage to be over, and much-needed tax dollars would help it rebuild after COVID.
This wasn’t New Jersey going all in and driving huge revenues with a slew of operators getting licensed. It would effectively have been a monopoly and they are seldom great for business.
Legal sports betting near Florida
If you’re a fan of betting on sports, and want to get a piece of the action, you can do so already but you’ll need to travel.
The only states bordering Florida are Georgia and Alabama, and neither has made sports betting legal yet, though Georgia appears to be well underway.
Farther afield, Tennessee is open for online business only. So if you’re willing to make the trip (a 10-hour drive) across the state line, you’re good to go assuming you’re 21 or older.
You could even consider going old school and hopping a plane to Nevada and Las Vegas. There are non-stop options daily from Miami, Orlando and Tampa (flight time around five hours) and the cost is pretty reasonable.
Are offshore sportsbooks legal in Florida?
No, offshore sportsbooks are absolutely not legal in the state of Florida.
Not only is Florida not allowing sports betting just yet, it would never license an offshore book in any case.
Our firm advice is that you do not sign up with offshore sportsbooks, however tempting their offers may seem.
The lack of consumer protection is a big concern, so why take the risk?