Dept. of the Interior Approves Florida’s Sports Betting Compact

Written by: Mike Lukas
Updated October 14, 2022
3 min read
Approve Florida Sports Betting
  • Remaining Silent Past Friday’s Due Date, the Interior Dept. Approves FL Compact
  • Florida Sports Betting Compact Limits Gambling to Seminole Reservation
  • More Legal Hurdles to Bypass Before Planned October 15 Launch Date

Remaining Silent Past Friday’s Due Date, the Interior Dept. Approves FL Compact

The US Department of the Interior had 45 days to approve or reject the sports betting compact that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Marcellus Osceola, Jr., the office of Seminole Tribe chair, signed back in April.

That deadline ended on Friday, August 5, 2021, and by remaining silent on the issue past that date, the Interior Department gave its unspoken and legal approval to the controversial compact that would essentially allow legal sports betting in the state of Florida.

This was made clear in a recent statement released by Bryan Newland, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs:

After thorough review under IGRA (the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988), we have taken no action to approve or disapprove the Compact before August 5, 2021, the 45th day. As a result, the Compact is considered to have been approved by operation of law to the extent that it complies with IGRA and existing Federal law. The Compact will become effective upon the publication of notice in the Federal Register.

Given the 60-day grace period built into the compact, bets could not be accepted until October 15 at the earliest, and then the wagers would have to be made on Seminole Tribe land.

Florida Sports Betting Compact Limits Gambling to Seminole Reservation

Currently, there are a number of in-person and new online casinos available to Florida punters, but so far placing bets on sporting events has not been possible, though that should change with the approval of this current compact.

According to the IGRA, wagers in Florida are only allowed to take place on the Seminole reservation, but detractors of the current compact claim this opens up a loophole based on where the computer servers are located.

Since the servers that will handle online sports bets are located on Seminole land, those who favor the current agreement see this as being enough to satisfy the law, while those against it claim that a bet is placed “both where the bettor and the casino are each located.”

This potential loophole has resulted in a lawsuit that we detail in Florida Gaming Compact Faces Lawsuit by Southwest Parimutuels, and it isn’t the only legal hurdle Florida sports gamblers must sidestep before the first sports bet can be placed and accepted.

Another major legal hurdle this compact and the state of Florida’s face involves something called Amendment 3 which was passed by an overwhelming majority of voters and ensures statewide voter approval for all changes to casino gaming.

Those who favor Amendment 3 in the state’s legal community are hoping to limit an expansion of gaming in the state and see this compact as an attempt to circumvent seeking voter support.

Also thrown into the legal mix is the petition drives launched by both DraftKings and FanDuel to allow statewide sports betting by amending Florida’s actual constitution, a move that could put the issue on an upcoming ballot and challenge the Seminoles’ tight grip on sports betting in the state.

Legal issues aside, billions of potential dollars in sports betting revenues are at stake here so expect some litigious fireworks in Florida in the upcoming months.

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Mike Lukas

Sports Betting & Gambling Industry Analyst

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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager.
Nationality: American
Education: N/A
Favourite Sportsbook: bet365 Sportsbook
Favourite Casino: Caesars Palace Casino
23 years
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