Florida has become the latest state to sign off on the legalization of sports betting, but the deal is far from perfect for online bookmakers or bettors.
When Governor Ron DeSantis signed a new 30-year gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe Friday, it included the provision of statewide online betting as well as tribal retail locations.
Florida sports betting: Pros and cons
The good news is that anybody in the state (over the age of 21) would be able to bet via mobile apps on their phone. The bad news is their options could be pretty limited.
The Seminole will pay the state a minimum of $500 every year in return for having the exclusive rights to operate digital betting in Florida.
Reports Friday suggest there will be a maximum of two skins available, and one of those likely will go to the Seminole’s Hard Rock brand. Slim pickings then for other operators looking to cash in on a state with a population of more than 21million.
While revenues are expected to be huge with the approval for online betting, the lack of competition could affect the odds and signup bonuses for local bettors.
Deal is life-changing – Seminole Tribe
Tribe Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr. was ecstatic as he inked the landmark deal, telling reporters: “The agreement we are about to sign is going to be life changing for our tribe. We are truly happy for the chance that we’ve been given to be here today and put this behind us for the next 30 years.”
DeSantis meanwhile is just happy to be getting a piece of the action now, rather than the handle all going to unlicensed offshore operators.
“We also just trust the Tribe to be the ones doing that rather than stuff that’s offshore,” he said.
The next step is for the agreement to be ratified by the Florida Legislature and then the federal government. The former is expected during a special session the week of May 17. The latter should be wrapped up by August.
While the deal ends years of legal wrangling and ushers in a new world for the state, it likely means massive disappointment for the dozens of licensed bookmakers now operating in the U.S.
They saw Florida as one of the biggest prizes out there due to its population size and cosmopolitan demographic. But instead of a competitive marketplace similar to New Jersey, bringing massive profits to many, the reality appears likely to be very very different.