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What is the status of Florida’s sports betting legislation?

| Angela Naff |

Florida is a great place to live, and this is certainly true of the Gulf Coast area. As residents here know, the warm weather and friendly atmosphere are just two of the things which makes it so awesome. Places such as Tampa and Sarasota also have lots of things to stay entertained with in your free time. This means you never get bored and always have plenty of fun things to do when relaxing after a busy day.

As a sports mad place, it is only natural to pick sports as one form of entertainment which people around The Sunshine State love. While watching and playing sports is of course totally legal, many people are not sure if betting on sports is something those in Florida can legally do yet.

But what is the status of sports betting legislation in Florida and where might it head next?

Sports betting not legal in Florida

Although the 2018 US Supreme Court decision to overrule the PASPA Act enabled individual states to legalize betting on sports, Florida has been slow to react. This leaves both online and offline betting on sports still illegal within state borders.

A key point to note here though relates to horse-racing and Daily Fantasy Sports games. DFS sites such as FanDuel accept players from Florida and state officials allow people to enjoy games like this, as they are not technically seen as gambling on sports. There are also horseracing sites such as Twinspires, which are also legal and open for those in Florida to use. Aside from this though, people within the state are still waiting for officials to change the legislative picture around all sports betting.

What might the future bring for Florida sports wagering?

Although it is not currently legal to bet on sports in Florida, it is hoped that this will change fairly soon. This would be great news for sports fans in the state who are eager to enjoy the fun that backing teams such as the Dolphins or Bucs brings. But what reasons are there to be hopeful moving ahead?

To begin with, a May 2021 decision by the Florida Legislature approved a fresh gaming contract between the state and the Seminole Tribe. This looks to have cleared a major hurdle in terms of sports betting and seems to pave the way for more changes moving forward. Although this ruling is still being approved at Federal level, it could be a real breakthrough for sports wagering in Florida when confirmed.

Once this happens, the political wheels will have been set in motion to legalize sports betting within the state. Things should hopefully move quickly towards full regulation after that. Although many hope this will be in 2022, it is hard to say with any certainty yet.

Why is Florida looking at making sports betting legal?

When you look back at Florida’s history on this subject, you find that despite its citizens love for gambling, sports betting has never been legal in the state. So, why is now the time that state officials appear to be making moves to change this?

Much of this is due to money and the huge amounts which legalizing this activity could bring into state coffers. New Jersey for example had a sports betting handle of over $1bn in January 2022 alone! These sorts of figures are simply too tempting for Florida to ignore and explain why moves to legalize wagering on sports are now underway.

Florida will also be worried about other states who have legalized sports betting becoming more attractive to visit than them. As tourism is big business in this part of the USA, legalizing betting on sports is now being seen as essential to keep up with other states around them. In simple terms, Florida cannot afford to lose huge numbers of tourists who want to bet on sports while away to rival US states. If sports betting can be added to what Florida already offers, such as John Mayer playing Tampa and fabulous shops to browse, it will make the state an even better choice for visitors.

You also have to look at the political goodwill legalizing sports betting could earn state officials and factor this into any future decision in the region. With a real clamor growing with most Floridians to make sports betting legal, politicians will be keen to leverage this to their advantage.

Sports betting future bright for Florida

Although it is still not legal to bet on sports within Florida, moves in the corridors of power and the new Seminole tribe contract appear to signal an impending change. Although it is hard to say when any legalization of betting on sports in Florida could happen, many feel it will not take too much longer.

Photo from Deposit Photos

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