While Florida may be famous for its sunny beaches and vibrant people, the state is also one of the most passionate about sports in the US. With millions of fans loving professional and college sports, sports betting and FL is a match made in heaven.
Bettors in Florida thought they saw the start of a legal and safe sports betting industry in the state in May 2021, when the Florida Legislature approved a new state gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe. After years of wrangling over card games and pari-mutuels caused the Tribe to withdraw $350 million a year of payments to the Florida Government, the new agreement allowed the Seminole Tribe to regulate sports betting in the Sunshine state.
The Seminole-owned Hard Rock Sportsbook became the first mobile betting platform to launch in the state in November 2021 but was only live for a month. After a complaint from some of the state’s commercial casinos, a federal judge determined the 2021 gaming compact broke the law and demanded sports betting stop immediately.
This started a long process of lawsuits, countersuits, and appeals. The issue remains unresolved, and sports bettors in the state still can’t wager. Read our complete guide to the legislative history of sports betting in the state, what options Florida sports bettors have for betting, and what the future holds for the state’s betting industry.
Before the 1980s, Florida was mainly a college sports state, with some of the most well-known college football teams in the US. However, over a decade, from the 80s to the 90s, several major league sports teams launched in the state. Now, the state has a team in every major league, including three in the NFL.
Florida sports bettors will be spoiled for choice when online sports betting goes live in the state. Check out some of the most famous teams in the state below.
Pro football arrived in Florida in 1965 when Miami Dolphins were awarded a franchise in the American Football League (AFL) as an expansion team. Tampa Bay Buccaneers joined them in 1974 and Jacksonville Jaguars in 1993.
The Dolphins and Buccaneers are the most successful NFL teams in Florida, having won two Super Bowls each, while the Jaguars have yet to win its first Vince Lombardi Trophy. As betting generates the most interest in any sport in the US sportsbook market, the NFL betting market would likely be the biggest in the state.
The NBA awarded two basketball sides to Florida as part of its 1987 expansion, with Miami and Orlando-based teams receiving a franchise. The Miami Heat joined the NBA in 1988, while the Orlando Magic held its inaugural game a year later, in 1989. The two have a fierce rivalry known as the Sunshine State rivalry.
The NBA is one of the biggest betting markets in the US, and it will be no different in Florida. The game’s fast pace makes it perfect for in-play bettors or any Magic or Heat fans wanting to get behind their team.
Florida boasts two MLB franchises, with one in the American League and one in the National League. The Miami Marlins, in the NL East, joined professional baseball in 1993 as the Florida Marlins before changing its name to the Miami Marlins after moving to its new ballpark, LoanDepot Park, in 2012.
The Tampa Bay Rays joined the MLB later, in 1998, as a member of the AL East and have called Tropicana Field home since launching. While the Marlins won two World Series in 1997 and 2003, the Rays have yet to win a World Series. However, the Rays have made it to two World Series Finals.
You’ll find MLB betting at most US sportsbooks, and plenty of baseball fans will be keen to bet on local teams if sports betting launches in FL.
Ice hockey got in on all the professional sports teams arriving in Florida in 1992 as the Tampa Bay Lighting entered the Prince of Wales Conferences. The Florida Panthers joined the Lightning in 1993, with the Panthers joining the Eastern Conference.
While the Panthers have struggled to maintain consistent success, reaching only one Stanley Cup, the Bolts have become a regular fixture in the Stanley Cup. The team appeared in three consecutive finals series in 2020, 2021, and 2022. With the recent success of the Lightning, Floridian bettors are likely to be attracted to NHL futures markets.
Florida is home to three giant college football programs, with the Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, and Miami Hurricanes all playing in the state. While these teams compete in a variety of sports, college football is where the teams get the most attention.
The Gators compete in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) and have claimed three national titles in 1996, 2006, and 2008. The Seminoles and Hurricanes play in the Atlantic Coast Conference in football and have won eight claimed national titles, with Miami winning five and Florida State winning three. Florida also plays host to eight bowl games in the college football postseason.
With such a passionate fanbase for college football, the potential market for collegiate sports betting in Florida could be vast and rival NFL betting in the Sunshine State. However, it will depend on the college sports betting restrictions put in place, as other states limit wagering on in-state teams.
Currently, you can’t bet on sports anywhere in Florida. Until the 2021 gaming compact is reinstated or new betting legislation is introduced, no online or retail sportsbooks can launch in the state. If the gaming compact is reintroduced, the Hard Rock Sportsbook will launch again in the state. In addition, the Seminole Tribe could launch retail sportsbooks at its land-based casinos throughout the state. Here are some of the locations where retail sports betting may be available in the future.
The state’s pari-mutuel horse racing facilities could also launch retail sports betting through partnerships with the Seminole Tribe, so you may also see sports betting at the locations below.
Currently, the only way for Floridians to bet legally is to travel to states where sports betting is legal, place wagers, and collect winnings within the state boundaries. The states bordering Florida - Alabama, and Georgia - do not have legal sports betting. However, nearby Louisiana and Mississippi have regulations for both online and retail sportsbooks to operate.
On the November 2020 ballot, each parish in Louisiana was given the option to legalize sports betting. 55 of the state’s 64 allowed sports betting to launch, with retail betting going live in October 2021. Online sports betting didn’t go live until January 2022.
Unlike other states where you can wager anywhere within state borders, you must be in a parish that chose to accept sports betting to wager in LA. There are 11 sportsbooks in the state, including well-known brands like DraftKings, Caesars, and BetMGM.
Mississippi has a proud history of gambling: the state contains the third-largest casino market in the US, with 30 casinos open for business. Mississippi was prepared for the launch of sports betting before many states and released its draft regulations to regulate sportsbooks in the state just hours after the PASPA decision. Retail sports betting launched in the state on August 1, 2018, with oversight from the Mississippi Gaming Commission.
There is online sports betting in Mississippi, but you must be on the grounds of a brick-and-mortar casino to use a betting app. For example, you can use BetMGM on the grounds of the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino and Gold Strike Casino Resort. Your sportsbook app will need to use your geolocation to ensure you are playing where it is legal.
The sports calendar is one of the most varied in the US, with loads of world-class venues for a wide range of sports. The state is a paradise for college football fans, with eight bowl games in the state, but there are also events for motor racing, golf, and tennis. Check out some of the must-see events in the Sunshine State below.
The Orange Bowl is the second-oldest college football bowl game in the United States, first contested in 1935. Held on the Orange Bowl Stadium site since its founding, the game moved to Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens in 1996.
In 1992, it joined the Bowl Coalition, which was made from several significant bowls and five major athletic conferences. When the Bowl Alliance succeeded the Bowl Coalition in 1995, the Orange Bowl joined the new arrangement. The Orange Bowl was also one of four bowls that comprised the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) from 1998-2013, and the Orange Bowl hosted the National Championship game in 2001 and 2005.
Since the advent of the CFP, it has formed one of the six sites that rotate the CFP semifinal games, known as the New Year’s Six bowls. It hosted a national semi-final in 2015, 2018, and 2021. Outside of these years, it has a conference tie-in with the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, and Notre Dame, with the ACC Champion playing in the tie should it not be selected for the CFP semi-finals.
Held continuously since 1946, the Gator Bowl is the country’s sixth-oldest college bowl. The game was played at the Gator Bowl Stadium until 1993, moved to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium for a year before moving to its current home at the TIAA Bank Field. In 1949, the Gator Bowl became the first college bowl to be televised nationally by NBC.
While it was a member of the Bowl Coalition from 1992-1994, it was not selected to be part of the Bowl Alliance, BCS, nor was it chosen as a site for the CFP national semifinals and New Year’s Six games.
The bowl has had a hybrid tie-in arrangement since 2015, with an SEC team playing an ACC team in the first three years and a Big Ten team in the remaining three years. Notre Dame, for this arrangement, is considered an ACC team. The highest-ranked team to appear in a Gator Bowl was the #3 Pittsburgh Panthers in 1980.
First played as the Tangerine Bowl in 1947, the Citrus Bowl is one of the oldest college football bowl games in the US. The game is played at the Camping World Stadium in Orlando. Initially selecting a mix of teams from various divisions of NCAA Football, NCAA Division I games have been exclusively selected since 1968. The old Tangerine Bowl name was dropped in 1983 for the current Citrus Bowl name.
Many college football fans consider this one of the best ties of bowl season, usually played on New Year’s Day and featuring two of the top 25 ranked college teams since 1985.
From 1968 to 1975, the bowl had a tie-in with the Mid-American Conference (MAC) and featured its champions against Southern or Southeastern Conference opponents. From 1987-1991, it featured a tie-in with the ACC against an at-large opponent. The game’s most recent partnership was from 1992-2015, featuring a matchup between the SEC and Big Ten.
The Cheez-It Bowl was founded in 1990 as the Sunshine Football Classic before going through various name changes due to sponsorship. Joe Robbie Stadium initially hosted the event, but in 2001, it moved to the Camping World Stadium, its current home.
The game has tie-ins with the ACC and Big 12, previously hosting Big Ten and Big East teams. There have been seven matchups between two top 25 teams, including in its inaugural game in 1990, when #6 Florida State and #7 Penn State met. It was part of the Bowl Coalition from 1992-1994 but was not included in the Bowl Alliance, the BCS, or the CFP.
Dubbed the fifth major and also known as The Players, the Players Championship is an annual golf tournament on the PGA Tour that began in 1974. Played in March, it had been hosted in Ponte Vedra Beach at the TPC Sawgrass since 1982.
The tournament has the largest purse of any competition on the PGA Tour, with winners taking home 18% of the $20,000,000 prize fund. It also offers the largest share of points towards a player’s world ranking, 80, aside from the majors. The winner receives a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a three-year invitation to the Masters’ Tournament, and exemptions to the PGA Championship, US Open, and The Open.
Jack Nicklaus has won The Players the most times, winning the 1974, 1976, and 1978 editions. Each of his victories was at different courses, and none were at the tournament’s current home. Five players, Fred Couples, Steve Elkington, Hal Sutton, David Love III, and Tiger Woods, have won the competition multiple times at TPC Sawgrass.
The Daytona 500 is a NASCAR Cup Series motor race held at the Daytona International Speedway at Daytona Beach. Inaugurated in 1959, it is the first points race of the season, having become the season-opening race in 1982. The race is usually held on Presidents’ Day weekend.
The event is the most prestigious event of the NASCAR season and is often the highest-viewed auto race of the year, according to the US television ratings. While the winner receives the same number of Championship points as each of the NASCAR Cup Series races, the purse is the highest of any race in the NASCAR season. The event is often called the “Super Bowl of Stock Car Racing.”
Richard Petty has won the Daytona 500 the most times, claiming seven victories. Since 1997, the winner has received the Harley J. Earl Trophy.
Founded as the Firecracker 250 in 1959, the Coke Zero Sugar 400 is the second NASCAR event held at the Daytona International Speedway after the Daytona 500. Ending the NASCAR Cup Series since 2020, it serves as the final race of the NASCAR regular season.
The event was known as the Pepsi 400 for 23 years and was traditionally held on or around Independence Day. In 1998, it became the first race involving stock cars held under the lights at Daytona International Speedway.
In 2008, Coca-Cola took over the race sponsorship, and the event got its current name. It’s known for its magnificent fireworks during the celebrations and several close finishes.
Held at Hard Rock Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins, the Miami Open is an ATP Tour Masters 1000 and WTA 1000 event held between March and April.
The tournament was founded to be the first major of the year by Butch Buchholz, executive director of the ATP, during the 1980s. It held its inaugural tournament in 1985 at Laver’s International Tennis Resort in Delray Beach before moving to Key Biscayne in 1988. The competition used to have the nickname of the “fifth major”, in reference to the four Grand Slam events but dropped this name in the mid-2000s.
In November 2017, the Miami Open moved to Hard Rock Stadium, with new permanent courts being constructed on-site, including a grandstand court. Andre Agassi and Novak Djokovic hold the record for the most men’s titles at the event with six apiece. Serena Williams has won the most women’s titles, winning the tournament eight times.
Yes, pari-mutuel wagering on horse races is legal in Florida. If you want to place a pari-mutuel bet, you can visit one of the state’s many racetracks. You can also go to an off-track betting location licensed by the Florida Gaming Control Commission and place wagers on horse racing events. You can also bet on horse racing using online betting sites like TVG and TwinSpires.
The Seminole Tribe is a Native American tribe in Oklahoma and Florida. The group makes up three federally recognized tribes in the United States: The Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, the Miccosukee Tribe of Florida, and the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The Seminole Tribe of Florida received its federal status in 1957 and established gaming operations on tribal land in 1975. It was one of the first tribes in the US to welcome casino gaming.
Mobile sports betting may be available in Florida in the future, but currently, you can’t place sports in the state currently. The 2021 compact was signed between Florida Gov. DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe and allowed for online and mobile sports betting. However, this was struck down by a federal judge for breaking IGRA.
The minimum gambling age in Florida is 21 for casino games and 18 for lottery games, bingo, and pari-mutuel betting for horse racing and jai alai. You will need to provide a photo ID to gamble anywhere in the state. If sports betting returns to the state, the likely minimum gambling age will be 21.
Sports betting is illegal in Florida because all states in the US have to introduce legislation to legalize sports betting. The state attempted to do this when it signed a gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe in 2021.
However, a federal judge ruled that the Seminole Tribe offering sports betting to players not on tribal land violated the IGRA and dismissed the 2021 gaming compact. This made the launch of sports betting illegal in the state if the Florida State Legislature didn’t pass new legislation to legalize sports wagers statewide.
There are no legal sports betting apps in Florida because sports betting is illegal in the state. Hard Rock Sportsbook was available in the state for a few months but was forced to shut down following a lawsuit into the gaming compact that allowed it to launch. However, an appeal against this ruling has been launched.
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