A massive expansion of gaming is coming to the state of Florida. As the Sunshine State looks to dig out of budget shortfalls brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, it has decided to go the route that so many other states have gone – sports betting.
The Seminole Tribe reached an agreement with Governor Ron DeSantis last week that would include both mobile and retail sports betting. For table games players, the expansion of gaming will also include craps and roulette at retail gaming facilities that fall under the Seminole Tribe’s purview.
The Florida legislature still needs to approve the agreement, and there could be additional challenges at the federal level, but that should be the last hurdle in an expansion of gaming that has been in the works for quite some time. Florida is an enormous market for the sports betting operators that are able to get a footing in the state and we’ll have to see how all of the particulars will line up.
It may still take some time for all of the pieces to fall into place because any setbacks in the process could lead to a voter referendum. We’ve seen sports betting approvals increase across the country as more and more politicians and sports teams come around to high levels of acceptance that legalized wagering is here and is not going away.
One downside of the agreement is that it seems as though only two operators will be able to gain licensing through the state and the Seminole Tribe. That would create something of a monopoly in Florida. Furthermore, there are some existing gaming partnerships, like the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in southern Florida. Will DraftKings and FanDuel be able to break through that partnership when Hard Rock operates its own sportsbooks in New Jersey?
Which Sportsbooks Will Be in Florida?
The likely answer is no, which means that Hard Rock would get one skin. That leaves one other very lucrative, very important skin up for grabs. Florida is considered one of the crown jewels of sports betting, along with Texas, California, and New York because of the population sizes of those four states.
A bid on the remaining skin would be about as competitive as it gets in the sports betting business to say the least. That skin would allow the operator to offer online and mobile betting in Florida.
The retail and online sportsbooks that fall under the Seminole Tribe’s umbrella are one thing, but retail sportsbooks at sports venues could be another. In other states and areas, William Hill, DraftKings, and even BetMGM have plans for those or are currently operating them. Racetracks will be another interesting wrinkle to this plan.
Perhaps geofenced mobile or online wagering could be allowed near the sports venues, which would allow more operators to get into the mix. Bettors could also drive to the closest retail sportsbook if they wanted to bet with somebody other than Hard Rock or the other online operator.
When Will Floridians Be Able to Bet on Sports?
There are a lot of moving parts with the Florida sports betting deal and a lot of approvals still need to come through. A lot of states have reached an impasse with the tribal nations and casinos and that has left sports betting bills in limbo. The fact that Florida seems to have moved forward through what has typically been the toughest part for a lot of states suggests that we may see sports betting in Florida sooner than most anticipated.
We’ll keep you updated on the progress at ATS.io. It could be a quick process, as DeSantis and the Republican-led Congress should be on the same page to a large degree here and the Secretary of the Department of the Interior is the first Native American to hold the position in the person of Deb Haaland. She shouldn’t hold up something that the tribe has already agreed to at this point.
A clear timeline is a little bit uncertain. It could be a matter of months or it could go into 2022 or later. All we know is that Florida, the third-most populous state in the country and one of the highest for tourism and travel, will have sports betting in the future.