Jul 14, 2023 - Sports

Online sports betting in Florida may return soon

Illustration of a slot machine featuring a basketball, baseball and football, ending in three dollar signs.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Floridians might be able to place some online sports bets in time for football season.

Driving the news: Last month's ruling by a federal appellate court upholding a gambling agreement between the Seminole Tribe and the state could be finalized as early as Aug. 21, Florida gambling law experts say.

Yes, but: There is still the potential for further legal challenges. "We're figuratively at halftime," gaming law attorney Daniel Wallach tells Axios. "There are too many unknowns and unknowables."

Why it matters: Commercial sports betting — legal in more than 30 states and responsible for $7.5 billion in total revenue last year — has exploded since the Supreme Court overturned a federal ban in 2018.

Catch up fast: After signing a multibillion-dollar state gambling compact in 2021, the Seminole Tribe briefly launched Florida's first online sportsbook before they were forced to suspend operations after about a month.

Of note: A spokesperson for the Seminole Tribe had no comment when reached by Axios beyond a June 30 statement that the tribe was "fully reviewing the decision to determine its next steps."

What they're saying: Bob Jarvis, law professor at Nova Southeastern University, tells Axios he expects the Seminole Tribe to relaunch its online sportsbook before the Aug. 26 start of college football season.

  • However, Jarvis also says he expects a state lawsuit to be filed challenging the compact, which could lead a judge to suspend all sports betting until the case is resolved.

Between the lines: Wallach says the case is a strong candidate to be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court due to conflicting rulings on the topic.

  • "This ruling has the potential to impact tribal–state relationships in a number of different states," he said. "This has nationwide significance."
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