The Phoenix Flyer

Sports betting in FL: Launch date still unclear, as NFL heads into week 6

By: - October 13, 2021 12:52 pm

Parx SportsBook, Bensalem, PA. Credit: CreativeCommons

It depends on what you mean by “fall.”

The Seminole Tribe of Florida is marketing its new offering of statewide sports betting as “coming this fall.” Many thought that would mean an Oct. 15 launch, this Friday, citing new legislation authorizing online sports betting to begin no sooner than that date.

Then, lawsuits were filed around the 30-year gambling compact approved last spring between the State of Florida and the Seminole Tribe, leading to speculation that the launch would not start until certain court proceedings play out in November.

Sports betting is at its peak during fall football season, and new online sports betting operations recently launched in several other states. But the Seminole Tribe has yet to announce a start date.

What is known from marketing and PR-style messaging on various media is that the Seminole Tribe will conduct its sports-betting operation through Hard Rock Sportsbook, which launched its first operations in January in New Jersey. It is a branch of Hard Rock Digital, a joint venture of Seminole Gaming and Hard Rock International that launched last December. Whether the tribe will launch mobile sports-betting and on-site betting at the same time is unclear.

Sports Handle and other gambling news sites report the launch is not possible until hiring and training of hundreds of employees and installation of new equipment are complete.

Also, the Tribe is required by law to negotiate sports-betting partnerships with at least three pari-mutuel facilities in Florida, or it will have to pay the state 2 percent more in revenue share.

No partnerships have been announced. In fact, two South Florida parimutuel facilities are suing to strike down that monopoly so that they may work with others sports-betting corporations such as FanDuel, DraftKings and William Hill — if Florida voters say that’s OK in a future referendum.

The Tribe also is busy defending its state-authorized monopoly on sports betting in Florida, which was sort-of approved but not outright approved by the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs, which governs Indian gaming.

Competing interests in Florida contend the monopoly is not legal under federal law nor under the Florida Constitution, amended by voters in 2018 to specifically outlaw new forms of gambling except as approved by voters.

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Laura Cassels
Laura Cassels

Laura Cassels is a reporter, former statehouse bureau chief, and former city editor. She is a classical pianist, a Florida State University graduate and proud alum of the Florida Flambeau, an independent college newspaper. Contact her at [email protected]