Florida Sports Betting 2023 – Are Sportsbook Apps Legal?
Florida sports betting is legal and live again. Hard Rock Bet relaunched its app on Nov. 7, in a limited capacity, amid a lengthy legal battle that caused the app to shut down in December 2021. Hard Rock Bet is the only legal betting app in Florida.
The Seminole Tribe, which owns Hard Rock Bet, also plans to open in-person sports betting at its six casinos on Dec. 7, 2023.
Hard Rock Bet took down its sportsbook app after court rulings against the legality of sports betting in Florida. However, the Seminole Tribe successfully appealed that decision, and multiple attempts to fight the ruling have been denied.
Read on for all the latest information on Florida sports betting and what could be next for the industry.
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Is sports betting legal in Florida?
Yes. Hard Rock Bet is live again in Florida after shutting down for almost two years. The Seminole Tribe has stated that it is “offering limited access to existing Florida customers to test its Hard Rock Bet platform.”
After Hard Rock shut down its app in December 2021 following a series of court rulings, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals held the industry in limbo while deliberating those rulings, which vacated the gaming compact between the state and the Seminole Tribe. The Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Seminole Tribe on June 30, 2023, making sports betting legal again.
What’s happening in Florida sports betting right now
- Nov. 27, 2023 — According to Miami radio host Andy Slater, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is reportedly in talks to sell a minority stake in the team, Hard Rock Stadium, and the F1 Miami Grand Prix.
- Nov. 14, 2023 — The state supreme court denied West Flagler’s motion to suspend Florida sports betting.
- Nov. 8, 2023 — One day after online sports betting relaunched in Florida, West Flagler Associates submitted an urgent request to stop mobile betting offered by Hard Rock Bet and the Seminole Tribe.
- Nov. 7, 2023 — Hard Rock Bet is now live for existing customers in Florida. After an almost two-year shutdown, Hard Rock is testing its new platform.
- Nov. 6, 2023 — Rumors surrounding the Florida sports betting industry suggest the state could launch online sports betting before the Dec. 7 launch of retail betting.
- Nov. 1, 2023 — The Seminole Tribe announced plans to launch in-person sports betting, along with craps and roulette, at its six casinos in the state.
- Oct. 26, 2023 — After granting a temporary stay of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals mandate in the ongoing Florida sports betting case, Chief Justice John Roberts denied the stay – a win for the Seminole Tribe.
The status of Florida sports betting
While discussions in most states occur in public legislative hearings, sports betting negotiations in Florida happened nearly entirely behind the scenes. Any deal for sports betting in Florida required negotiating a larger gambling compact between the state and the Seminole Tribe.
That is exactly what happened in April 2021, when Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a new compact with the Seminole that would bring some form of statewide mobile wagering to Florida. State legislators approved the deal in May 2021, and the US Department of Interior allowed the tribal compact that would legalize FL sports betting to be published in the Federal Register in August. This was not approved but did allow the compact to proceed.
That move passed questions regarding the definition of mobile sports betting under tribal gaming law to the court system. Local groups mounted legal challenges to Florida sports betting, claiming it violated a constitutional amendment requiring voter approval or the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. A federal judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, and the compact was vacated pending appeals by both the tribe and the DOI.
After several months of the industry hanging in legal limbo, the Seminole Tribe successfully appealed the federal judge’s decision. The DC District Court of Appeals overturned the District Court decision that had blocked regulated sports betting. That decision made Florida sports betting legal again and gave the Seminole Tribe the ability to relaunch Hard Rock Bet at any time.
In August 2023, West Flagler Associates filed a petition to rehear the case, but that request was denied. West Flagler later filed a motion to stay the DC Circuit Court of Appeals mandate while the plaintiff appealed to the US Supreme Court. The Supreme Court denied a request for a stay of the mandate.
With online sports betting still up in the air in the state, the Seminole Tribe announced on Nov. 1 that it is launching retail sports betting at its casinos on Dec. 7, 2023. The Tribe followed that up by relaunching Hard Rock Bet to existing customers on Nov. 7.
Recent Florida sports betting news
West Flagler Associates’ motion to suspend online Florida sports betting was denied Friday by the State Supreme Court. The Seminole Tribe of Florida is currently offering legal online…
Florida sports betting bills
An enabling bill ratified the tribal compact with the state:
Three bills sought to legalize sports betting in Florida before the deal reached between the Seminole Tribe and the state. The bills essentially were abandoned once it became clear sports wagering would be included in the tribal compact:
The legislative effort to move FL sports betting forward received relatively little consideration. Two bills died in committee early in the session:
Florida sports betting law
The law governing Florida sports betting technically exists via the tribal compact reached in 2021.
The compact calls for the Seminole Indians to share 13.75% of sports betting revenue with the state, as long as the Seminole sign sports betting contracts with at least three parimutuel operators within three months.
Those agreements would allow parimutuels to launch their own skins but require bets on the Seminole server. Without those arrangements, that revenue share would increase by 2% until such deals are in place. The parimutuels would get to keep 40% of sports betting revenue.
SB 2-A made into law the new gaming compact. The Seminole Indians own exclusivity to run FL sports betting.
Legal sports betting options in Florida
Aside from Hard Rock Bet and betting on horse racing, there are no other legal sportsbook websites that accept bets from anyone in Florida. DraftKings launched its horse racing app, DK Horse, in Florida ahead of the 2023 Kentucky Derby.
There are illegal offshore websites that offer sports betting in Florida. They do not hold a license from any US jurisdiction to legally accept bets from residents.
Without regulation from the state, these offshore betting apps can’t be counted on to pay out winnings and have been known to disappear with people’s money.
The only safe and protected way to bet on sports in the United States is to do so with a licensed operator.
Many Florida pari-mutuel locations offer betting on Jai alai, a sport similar to racquetball in which players use curved baskets strapped to their hands to launch hard rubber balls at fast speeds on a three-walled court.
Most popular sports to bet on in FL
There’s little doubt that legal Florida sports betting is popular when available.
With more than 21 million people, Florida is the third-most populous state in the country, following California and Texas. It’s also the second most popular state as a tourist destination behind California.
NFL betting in Florida
NBA betting in Florida
Two NBA teams (Miami Heat, Orlando Magic) call Florida home, accounting for most of the interest in the Sunshine State. The NBA continues to be a popular wager for in-game or in-play betting because of the pace of the action.
MLB betting in Florida
There are two Major League Baseball teams (Miami Marlins, Tampa Bay Rays) that operate in Florida. Both consistently struggle to draw fans to the ballpark, but the state’s function as a Spring Training home for the Grapefruit League shows baseball’s popularity in Florida.
NHL betting in Florida
Two NHL teams (Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning) compete in Florida. The Panthers recently reached the finals of the 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs. The Lightning are former Stanley Cup champions and remain one of the strongest teams in the league.
NCAA betting in Florida
Florida also has three college football powerhouses: the Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, and Miami Hurricanes.
Golf betting in Florida
Many high-profile PGA and LIV members reside in the state of Florida. Brooks Koepka is one of those players and also attended Florida State University.
Where can I bet on sports in Florida?
The Seminole Tribe owns and operates six casinos in the state and the tribe has plans to launch in-person sports betting at all six on Dec. 7, 2023. Those casinos include:
- Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Hollywood
- Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Tampa
- Seminole Casino, Coconut Creek
- Seminole Classic Casino, Hollywood
- Seminole Casino Hotel, Immokalee
- Seminole Casino Brighton, Okeechobee
In addition, sportsbooks are likely to open at some point in the state’s pari-mutuel racing facilities, such as Gulfstream Park Racetrack and Tampa Bay Downs Racecourse. These facilities would have to partner with the Seminole Tribe to open a sportsbook in the state, according to the 30-year compact.
Florida and Daily Fantasy Sports
While daily fantasy sports are unregulated in Florida, PrizePicks, Underdog, DraftKings and FanDuel operate in the state. Alongside the sports betting deal reached in 2021, legislators attempted to codify DFS but ran out of time in the session.
A representative of DraftKings and FanDuel spoke against the proposed deal because it would have required them to stop operating until they could acquire a license, among other issues.
Previous efforts to legalize daily fantasy sports in Florida have met staunch opposition from the Seminole Tribe.
A 1991 opinion from then-Attorney General Robert Butterworth makes offering DFS in Florida a dicey situation. Before DFS was even a dream, Butterworth opined that the operation of a fantasy sports league in Florida would violate state law.
For this reason, Yahoo! daily fantasy prohibits people in Florida from playing on its site.
Florida Sports Betting Alternatives
Daily fantasy sports and social sportsbooks are available in Florida. Learn more about Florida DFS, social sportsbooks, and the available promotions and bonus codes from operators like PrizePicks, Underdog, and Fliff by clicking the links below.
Is horse racing legal in Florida?
In Florida, pari-mutuel wagering is authorized for horse racing, harness horse racing, quarter-horse racing, greyhound racing, jai alai games, and cardroom poker games. Additionally, slot machine gaming at pari-mutuel facilities is authorized in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
The most popular thoroughbred racetracks in the state are Gulfstream Park, Gulfstream Park West and Tampa Bay Downs. Gulfstream Park hosts three important prep races for the Triple Crown races in the Holy Bull Stakes, Fountain of Youth Stakes and the Florida Derby.
The historic Hialeah Park, which opened in 1922, offers quarter-horse racing. Betting on horse racing in Florida is regulated by the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering.
Florida used to be the dog racing capital of the country with 11 greyhound racetracks. However, in 2018 voters decided to cease dog racing in the state at the beginning of 2021.
Florida sports betting timeline
Though legal proceedings had not been finalized, Hard Rock Bet relaunches in Florida to existing customers on Nov. 7.
After a federal judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and the compact between the Seminole Tribe and the state was vacated, several months passed without a decision. Finally, the Seminole Tribe successfully appealed the decision and the District Court decision that had blocked regulated sports betting was overturned. West Flagler Associates later petitioned to rehear the case, but the request was denied.
As the year began, Florida sports betting remained in limbo with no end in sight. It is unclear when the tribal issues revolving around the state gaming compact with the Seminoles will be resolved. The movement, or lack thereof, on the lawsuit since the appeals were registered likely means that online sports betting in Florida will not return in 2022.
Meanwhile, the ballot initiative orchestrated by DraftKings and FanDuel did not find its way to the November 2022 general election. Both companies admitted defeat at the end of January. However, DraftKings CEO Jason Robins remained confident about a ballot initiative in 2024.
Oral arguments were held in the case over the 2021 gaming compact. After months of back and forth, both sides presented arguments before three judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
Florida sports betting arrived as the state and the Seminole Tribe agreed to a new compact that includes statewide mobile wagering. The state legislature signed off on the deal between the tribe and governor during a special session in May 2021. The federal government reviewed the compact, as required by law, and allowed it be added to the Federal Register, which does not signal approval.
The deal concludes years of negotiations between Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Seminole. Reporting throughout the early part of 2021 indicated that the two sides were making significant progress, although similar reports in the past proved untrue in the long run.
This year, however, the rapid rise of legal sports betting elsewhere in the United States finally appears to have swayed both the state and the tribe to step into the modern world of wagering.
The compact came under fire from several lawsuits after DeSantis signed it, casting a cloud over Florida sports betting. In November, the Hard Rock Sportsbook app launched in the state but was shut down a few weeks later after a federal court determined that the compact between Florida and the Seminoles is vacated. The Tribe is appealing the decision, but as such, the only app that launched in the state is no longer available.
With the tribal gaming payment stopped, legislators entered 2020 making big statements about cutting the Seminoles out of gambling in the state to focus on pari-mutuels and opportunities with private gaming companies.
Sen. Jeff Brandes filed a bill to authorize the Florida Lottery to regulate sports betting without the tribe.
In response, the Seminoles flexed their muscle in the legislature. While Brandes’ bill went nowhere, legislation to forbid the Florida Lottery from offering games based on sporting events passed in the House Gaming Control Subcommittee by a nearly unanimous vote but did not get called for a House vote.
Despite the usual chatter about behind-the-scene negotiations on a comprehensive gambling deal that would include Florida sports betting, there was no attempt at an agreement as the session came to an end on March 13.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the latest FL sports betting proposal allows the tribe to serve as the host for mobile sports betting statewide. The tribe would then resume and substantially increase its revenue-sharing payments to the state.
However, the proposal would have allow pari-mutuels to continue offering designated-player card games.
Seminole attorney Marc Dunbar explained to LSR why it doesn’t make financial sense for Florida sports betting to get the Seminoles to give up their dispute of designated player games.
With the agreement between the Seminole and former Gov. Rick Scott to extend the tribal gaming payment to the state coming to an end, renegotiating the gaming compact with the was a focus of the Florida legislature.
Senate President Bill Galvano, who handled the previous compact, tasked Simpson to work with the Seminoles
Simpson worked out a tentative agreement with the tribe. It would have paid the state at least $500 million a year in return for pledging to shut down the designated card games offered at state parimutuels, among other items.
Tribal casinos and pari-mutuels would have been permitted to offer sports betting, with the pari-mutuels paying a cut of the revenues to the Seminoles.
However, Gov. Ron DeSantis refused to sign off on the deal. In response, the Seminole told the governor they would stop making annual payments of about $350 million to the state “until the illegal banked card game issue is resolved.”
The Seminole took control of any changes to gambling in the state away from the legislature by supporting the passage of Amendment 3 in the November election.
Amendment 3 prohibits the legislature from authorizing new casino gambling. Any expansions of gambling not only need to be approved by but also initiated by voters.
This made it impossible for future legislatures to legalize Florida sports betting without working with the Seminole.
Florida sports betting FAQ
Who oversees sports betting in FL?
The Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering handles other gambling regulations in the state, including the authority to carry out the state’s oversight responsibilities in accordance with the provisions outlined in the compact with the Seminole.
Will mobile Florida sports betting be allowed?
Yes. The compact agreed upon by all parties includes the ability to bet on sports in Florida online. Hard Rock Bet is available now for existing users who had opened an account before the app shut down in 2021.
Who can bet on sports in Florida?
Anyone over 21 can bet on sports in Florida.
Excluded customers included key personnel from pro and college sports teams, including coaches, players, trainers, and officials. Referees also would be banned.
Who is the Seminole Tribe?
The Seminole Tribe is a Native American tribe indigenous to Florida. The tribe owns the exclusive right to offer all forms of casino-style gaming in the state, including sports betting in Florida.
The tribe owns and operates the Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood. It is the largest casino complex in the region.
Some sports betting websites say they accept bets from the United States. Are those legal options?
No. There are currently no sportsbook operators that are licensed at the federal level, which means all US sportsbooks are licensed at the state level. Any website that suggests betting from anywhere in the US is allowed is a website that operates offshore. It is not legal for those sites to accept bets from US citizens and those sites offer no protection to those who bet on them.