Is Online Sports Betting Legal in Florida?
Presently online and offline sports betting is not legal in the state of Florida, but hopefully that won’t be the case for long.
Florida is in a unique position when it comes to legalizing online sports betting. After the Supreme Court’s historic ruling in May of 2018 to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), many states jumped headfirst into this multi-billion dollar industry and immediately legalized sports gambling.
Florida, unfortunately, was not one of them.
There are many reasons this is the case but the biggest one has to do with the state’s longtime compact with the Seminole Tribe, which we’ll tell you more about below. The uncertainty around the long term future of this agreement has been the biggest factor in the Sunshine State’s wait-and-see approach to legalization.
The lack of urgency and movement on this issue is certainly frustrating for gamblers, however it may not stay this way forever.
The sports betting landscape is changing across the country and while it is taking some state’s a long time (some longer than others), it’s widely believed that it’s only a matter of time until Florida gets in on the action.
This page is your complete guide to everything you need to know about the past, present, and future of online sports betting in Florida. We’ll explain the US Supreme Court decision on PASPA in more detail and explain how it figures into how sports gambling regulation will take shape in Florida in the years to come.
We’ll also keep this page update with significant developments that may help or hurt Florida’s chances of introducing legal sports betting in the near future.
For more information on other states, read our state by state guides to US sports betting laws.
The Current Online Sports Betting Situation in Florida
When the US Supreme Court overturned PASPA in 2018 it opened the door for each state to make their own decisions with regards to legalizing sports gambling in their jurisdiction. Each state can decide whether to do it at all and if so, how the regulations will work.
Since each state has its own history and political/economic climate, we are likely to see change happen at a different pace depending on which part of the country you’re talking about.
In some cases the switch to legal sports gambling was already in the works and happened instantaneously. In other regions the switch seems inevitable and is only waiting for legislation or other red tape to be dealt with. In other places, legalization of sports gambling might not happen at all.
Florida falls somewhere in the middle of those groups. The state is receptive to gambling in general but there’s legal work that needs to be done before full-scale sports betting will be made available.
The current state of legal online sports betting in Florida is a bit complicated, to say the least.
Even though Florida now has the authority to legalize sports gambling, there are a few things standing in the way. The biggest obstacle is the pact that the state has with the Seminole Tribe.
Essentially, the agreement gives the Seminole Tribe a monopoly on all casino card games (blackjack, pai gow, casino poker variations, etc). However, the agreement has become somewhat tenuous and the new possibility of legal sports betting has made the negotiations even more complicated.
As it stands right now, nothing is currently happening on the legalization front and the first opportunity for anything to change is March 2019, when the Florida Legislature meets next.
Florida definitely doesn’t fall into the “Never going to happen” category when it comes to legal sports betting but it’s also not going to be leading the charge towards regulation. Like many states, though, Florida will have a hard time ignoring the potential revenue when they see other nearby states begin to reap the rewards.
The History of Online Sports Betting in Florida
Florida is one of the states where sports gambling laws have not changed much over the last 50 years or so.
Over the decades America has been through a number of reforms when it comes to the laws governing sports betting. In the early 60s, in an effort to combat organized crime and mob related racketeering, the US government made inter-state sports gambling illegal with the Federal Wire act.
The problem with that course of action, not unlike what happened with the prohibition of alcohol, is that it simply drove the business and flow of money further underground.
Three decades later, in 1992, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was introduced in an effort to protect the integrity of American sports by making gambling on games illegal anywhere outside of Nevada. Americans may not have been able to gamble on sports domestically but it wasn’t long after that the internet made it possible for offshore sportsbooks to offer their services to US players online.
Since then, the US has missed out on a massive revenue opportunity in the form of regulated sports gambling. There’s clearly a huge market for it as Americans spend billions each year wagering on sports in Las Vegas and through unregulated off-shore casinos and sportsbooks.
As of this writing, sports betting has never been legal in Florida, interesting because the state has a relatively large gambling culture.
Racetracks and casinos are common place throughout the state, yet neither offers legalized sports gambling. The closest thing people in Florida can gamble on is dog and horse-racing and the sport of jai alai which has been popular and legal to bet on in the state since the 1960s.
The only option sports gamblers have to place wagers on games is to use one of several offshore options, which are currently illegal.
Which Online Sports Betting Sites Are Legal in Florida?
As you can imagine, there are no “legal” online sports betting sites in Florida. However, several offshore options exist for online sports gamblers, but nothing that would constitute as legal.
While not technically illegal, offshore sportsbooks are risky to use because they’re based in far-off countries and not subject to authentic oversight or regulations. If something goes wrong with the company or your account, it’s extremely hard to resolve the situation.
Our advice is to wait for legal and fully regulated options to arrive in the United States.
In the coming months, and after March of 2019 in particular, we highly recommend returning to this a page for an update as we plan to keep readers updated on all matters regarding the legalization of sports betting across America.
What Sports Can You Bet on Online in Florida?
As of now, there are no sports you can bet on legally online or off. However, if sports betting does become legalized in the state of Florida, it’ll bring with it a whole slate of professional and amateuer sports to wager on.
Florida has a massive sports culture and tons of pro teams for residents to root for. Here are some of the state’s teams that will attract a lot of betting action.
Florida is home to three NFL franchises in the Miami Dolphins, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Jacksonville Jaguars which means Floridians will have lots of local NFL options to bet on when it becomes legal.
The state also has a ton of NCAA teams with the biggest being the Florida Gators and the Florida State Seminoles. Also drawing relatively large crowds for college ball are the Miami Hurricanes, the South Florida Bulls and the UCF Knights.
Basketball is huge in Florida and the state is represented by not one but two NBA teams: The Miami Heat and the Orlando Magic. When sports betting becomes legal in Florida you can expect a lot of action to center around these two franchises.
When it comes to NCAA basketball Florida’s biggest teams are the Florida Gators and the Florida State Seminoles.
Two Major League Baseball teams call Florida home: The Miami Marlins and the Tampa Bay Rays, both of which were founded in the 1990s. Florida is also home to MLB Spring Training each year which may also be possible to bet on in the future.
When you hear ice hockey you may not think of Florida but the sport is relatively popular with two NHL franchises based in the state. The Tampa Bay Lighting and the Florida Panthers which play home games at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida. Sunrise is a town just west of Ft. Lauderdale and just north of Miami.
Wagering on Other Sports
Once legalization takes effect, people in Florida will be able to to wager on all manner of pro sports, not just teams based in the state. Gator and Seminole fans will also be excited to know that college sports should be available to bet on too, giving residents an opportunity to bet on dozens of college sports games each weekend.
When the time does come that we see legalized sports gambling in the state of Florida, it would most likely start with land based sportsbooks within a brick and mortar casino. Land-based betting is usually followed by online sportsbooks that offer the same betting options as live venues.
Is There No-Deposit Sports Betting in Florida?
Given that online sports betting is still illegal, the issue of no deposit betting is currently moot. However, in the event that online sports betting becomes legal, residents of Florida can expect a similar approach to what other states are currently offering.
In states like New York and Mississippi, bettors are usually required to make a deposit upon registration in order to make real money bets. That said, no-deposit promotions are popular and when you find one, take it. Always remember, though, that any type of promotion regarding no-deposit wagering usually comes with a few strings attached.
Depositing rules vary from each online sportsbook you choose to use, so make sure to pay close attention to playthrough requirements, withdrawal restrictions and any other fine print that comes with the offer.
What Is the Future of Online Sports Betting in Florida?
The most immediate key date will come sometime in March, as that’s the next time the Florida Legislature will meet. Until then, there’s quite a bit of work that needs to be done in order to figure out the implications of legalized sports betting on the existing compact between the state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe.
However, with more and more states opting for legalization, it’s probably a matter of when not if sports betting will become legal in Florida. While the Sunshine State may be moving at a slower pace than its neighbors, we predict it’s only a matter of time until legislation is passed to push legalization forward.
There’s also belief that a key part of Florida’s wait-and-see approach includes analyzing how other states have implemented legalized sports betting and using that information to determine the best path forward for themselves.
What This Means For Sports Gamblers in Florida
Simply put, there’s far too much money up for grabs for Florida to ignore legalized sports betting forever, especially as more and more states move in that direction. While there are unique complications facing Florida, nothing motivates politicians more than potential revenue.
Add to that the fact that people in Florida love sports and already love to gamble and you’ve got the recipe for a thriving sports betting market.
Until then, patience is required from sports gamblers all over the state. If you’re looking for updates on the situation, check back regularly as we’ll update this post as new information comes in.
We recommend circling March, 2019, on your calendars as it marks a meeting of the state legislature where discussions on how Florida plans to proceed on this matter are on the agenda.