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Is Sports Betting Coming Back to Florida?

Florida could soon become the largest U.S. state with legal sports betting after a favorable ruling in the court system for the Seminole Tribe. There was a brief point in time in which sports betting was legal back in 2021 in the Sunshine State, but a court order shut down the sportsbooks almost immediately.

It’s been a long road through the court system since that time, but the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals just unanimously voted to approve the new gaming compacts with the state and the Seminole Tribe. This ruling went against a previous decision from the U.S. Department of Interior, and there were other groups in on the initial action as well.

This ruling is expected to get appealed up to the Supreme Court, but sports betting is technically legal in Florida yet again. There is a chance that sports betting could return again before the start of the 2023 NFL season, but a lot is going to be up in the air until that time.

Who Controls Florida Sports Betting?

The Florida sports betting industry was controlled by the Seminole Tribe when it first launched, and that will be the case again if it comes back. The Seminole Tribe controls all gambling in the state, and that is part of the issue with legal sports betting.

Governor Ron DeSantis worked with the Seminole Tribe to include sports betting in a new gaming compact as a way to ensure funds were brought in by the state. Through that compact, the Seminole Tribe was the only group that was given permission to offer legal sports betting.

Online sports betting was available through the Hard Rock Sportsbook app, and there was some success as soon as it went live. The Seminole Tribe does have the power to get sports betting back up and running quickly, but they are only going to do it if it can stay.

The gaming compact originally only allowed for online sports bets to be placed on Seminole land, and that was the biggest issue with online sportsbooks. The Seminoles claimed that the servers were on tribal land, which allowed for it to be legal, but other groups and lawmakers fought back against that notion.

Florida could become a massive sports betting market, even with a monopoly in place from the Seminole Tribe. Other states with a smaller population have put up huge numbers, and Florida has professional sports teams to back the industry as well.

Where Things Stand Now

While this does appear as if the federal court systems will allow the sports betting industry to return, state courts could end up getting involved as well. The ruling from the court did not mention the fact that this gaming compact went against the Florida Constitution, and that was a big argument as well.

If this decision is appealed up to the Supreme Court, that group of justices is not going to rule on the legality in the state of Florida. This could end up being decided by the voters in the state, and it could lead to lobbying ahead of elections in 2024.

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