Last updated: June 1, 2020
Status: The gambling structure in Florida is one of the most complicated in the USA, with several stakeholders enjoying influence in the house. As a result, all sides are still in talks about the best way to move forward.
ETA: With talks still ongoing, despite the current legislative session ending, sports betting in Florida looks to be some way off from becoming reality. Only time will tell if a breakthrough can be found to bring sports betting to the Sunshine State in 2020.
In November 2018, an amendment was passed (Amendment 3) that gave Florida voters the power to approve any future changes to casino gambling in the state. As a result, any new casino laws that are drafted and signed off will need public approval before passing into law. The area of contention seems to be whether sports betting falls within the definition of casino gambling.
The Seminole tribe, who supported the amendment, believe that they are exempt from it due to their existing agreements taking precedent. They clearly believed the amendment would hand them an advantage when it came to offering sports betting in the state, but some legal experts are disputing their claims.
What’s more, a protest group called “No Casinos in Florida” are also attempting to ensure that any legalization of sports betting in the state is first put to a public vote. The ongoing tenuous relationship between the affected parties could mean that a series of legal battles precede any future arrangements for sports betting in Florida.
Early gambling in 1800s Florida was restricted to unregulated casinos at hotel resorts owned by the states powerful high-rollers. The Cuban game “Bolita” also enjoyed a sizeable underground following until it was outlawed in the 1940s.
Pari-mutuel betting on horse races was legalized and in 1932, was expanded across the state to boost the economy following the Great Depression. Betting on Jai-Alai was also legalized in 1935 following the huge growth of the sport over the previous decade. Slot machines were legal from late 1935 until they were outlawed again in 1973.
The first tribal Indian bingo halls were opened in 1979 and provided important revenue to the area's native residents. With casinos still illegal, cruise ships that sailed out to international waters where gambling was legal were introduced. Because gambling was the sole purpose of these voyages, they were dubbed the “cruises to nowhere.”
In 1986, the Florida state lottery was launched following a public vote. The lottery gained support after it was announced that proceeds would be diverted to state education.
After many failed attempts to bring casinos to Florida, legislation finally passed a public vote in 2004 and casinos began to spring up all over the state. Today, there are around 150 casinos operating in Florida.
A sports betting bill has yet to be drafted in Florida and such sports gambling remains illegal.
With no bill drafted, it is too early to say who would control sports betting in the state of Florida.
Sports betting in Florida is currently illegal and no age limit has been set for such activities.
Currently, there are no legal outlets for sports betting in Florida.
Sports betting in Florida is still illegal and as such, no sports betting licenses have been issued.
There are no operators currently offering legal sports betting in Florida.
There is no legal online or mobile sports betting available in Florida.
According to estimates, sports wagering could generate up to $12 million in state revenue per year.
No tax rate has been set for sports betting in Florida.
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