Online Sports Betting in Florida on hold

Seminole Indian tribe challenged legalization of online sports betting

Efforts to legalize online sports betting in Florida have been paused due to a legal challenge by the Seminole Indian tribe. The Seminole tribe runs several casinos and horse racing facilities in the Sunshine state. The legal challenge was launched after a 2021 U.S. District Court decision invalidated the agreement between the State of Florida and the Seminole Indian Tribe that gave the Seminole a monopoly on online sports betting. The District Court ruled that compact was illegal. The basis of the judge’s decision was that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which has caused a proliferation in Indian casinos across the United States, only allows for gambling activities that are undertaken on Indian land. Ultimately, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will resolve this claim. They have already laid out their brief and hearing schedule. Based on that schedule it is clear that sports betting will not resume in Florida until 2023. 

Not only has the District Court’s decision put the kibosh on sports betting, it has also rolled back tribal gambling expansion outside of tribal land. Under the previously active compact of 2021, the Seminole tribe could operate gambling facilities off of tribal land in exchange for payments to the state. Since the compact has been struck down, all gambling that was expanded under it has been shut down, although previously existing gambling facilities are still in operation.

Sports betting in Florida and the USA

Sports betting has proliferated in the USA after a landmark Supreme Court ruling in 2018 in the case of Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association. The court ruled that PAPSA (the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) violated the anti-commandeering rule of the Constitution. Essentially, the Federal government is prohibited by its constitution, the supreme law of the land, from instructing the states to take or refrain from taking a particular action. Since it was under PAPSA that sports betting had previously been banned in all states except Nevada, the repeal of this statute has led many states to legalize a framework for sports betting to occur.

While gamblers in Florida will not be able to bet on sports in the immediate future (unless they opt to use grey market offshore betting sites), they can still get some action at one of the many racinos that have proliferated across their state. In addition to six full-fledged Indian casinos, Florida is also home to seven “racinos”. These racinos offer horse racing, greyhound racing, slots, and sometimes poker rooms as well. You can also find bingo, video poker, and virtual table games at some locations. For the most part, gambling in Florida is limited to casinos that are allowed to operate on Native American reservations because they are sovereign territory, and horse or greyhound racing. Racetracks are also allowed to have slot machines and poker tables, subject to regulatory approval at the state level. 

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