Floridians have endured a somewhat confusing past few years when it comes to mobile sports betting. First, they were told they could do it, but with many limitations. Some thought it was somewhat restrictive, but it was a better option than nothing at all. But the proverbial dangling carrot for Floridians was taken away when big corporate names called foul on the entire arrangement.
Let’s be clear here for a second: Florida currently doesn’t have a legal mobile sports betting market. However, that landscape could soon change for the better.
A brief history of Florida’s mobile sports betting market
To understand why Florida bettors have been on a rollercoaster of emotions, you must understand how it all started.
Two years ago, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill that legalized mobile sports betting in the state. The only catch is that it has to be provided and managed solely by the Seminole Tribe, and the agreement (called a “compact”) would last thirty years.
This arrangement was referred to as a “hub-and-spoke” operation. The Seminole Tribe’s land, where the betting servers would be based, is the “hub,” and bettors living in Florida are the “spoke.” The Tribe already has an agreement with Hard Rock to run the Hard Rock Bet app within the state.
However, West Flagler Associates, who previously owned casinos in Florida, sued the state for alleged infringement of the state’s constitution. According to WFA, Florida’s compact with the Seminoles about mobile sports betting was unconstitutional and should be revoked. They argue that the compact violates the 2018 amendment that prevents the state from expanding casino gaming.
How has the case fared through the courts?
Florida’s mobile sports betting life has been through cycles in the courts. Its journey started in November 2021 when a federal judge halted the compact. The state appealed the case, and in June 2023, a three-judge panel from the DC Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the initial ruling, saying that the compact did not violate anything.
However, WFA requested the appeals court to do a rehearing “en banc,” or by all appellate judges instead of just the original three. Unfortunately for them, the appeals court denied the motion in September 2023.
Is mobile sports betting legal in Florida yet?
At the moment, the answer is “technically, yes.” The compact is currently in effect since the ban was overturned. There have been rumors that the Seminoles and Hard Rock are working to bring the app live again soon, and only time will tell whether that’s true.
However, there’s also a chance that the Seminoles are trying to play it safe in the meantime by not launching anything despite the current legality. WFA is trying everything they can to get the compact revoked again. They are currently testing their hand with the Florida Supreme Court, and there’s a high chance that the entire case will go to the US Supreme Court.
For now, Floridians must continue to wait until this entire mobile sports betting saga comes to an end.