If you’re a wannabe gambler in the US state of Florida, you’ll likely be spending a lot of your time at the moment on fantasy sports betting games rather than real ones. That’s because there are several legal restrictions in place. While pari-mutuel horse racing can be bet on, few other sports betting scenarios are legal in the country.
Despite the Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn the laws which prevented people from across the US from participating in in-play sports betting, there’s still no widespread availability of sports betting provisions. As the experts on online-gambling.com can confirm, legal online gambling in Florida is still a gray area. This article will explore what the current legal and commercial status is – and begin to explore what the future might hold.
How changes to PASPA changed betting
Before plunging straight into the conditions in Florida in particular, it’s worth considering first of all what the broader legal changes which have taken place mean for the industry. For a long time, it was illegal at the federal level to operate sports betting either online or in person (with a few exceptions, such as most types of horse race betting – or, indeed, sports bets in Las Vegas). The reasons for this were diverse. It came in part, for example, from a perception among sports clubs that allowing single-game betting could sully the integrity of the sport.
However, the federal Supreme Court struck down this law – known as Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, or PASPA – in 2018. Since then, it has been up to each state to decide how their sports betting laws should look. Some states, such as New Jersey, have gone ahead and legalized sports betting and have taken it to new levels. NJ has already surpassed Nevada, where Las Vegas is located, as boasting the largest monthly sports betting revenue levels, however, in Florida, the situation is somewhat unclear.
What’s next for Florida?
For those who are concerned that they may have to spend the rest of their days placing fantasy or demo bets rather than real ones simply because they are based in the Sunshine State, they need not worry because there is some hope. The Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, has recently met with a large group of stakeholders from the sports betting world – and the meeting was largely perceived as having a positive outcome. The readouts from the meeting were insightful and could hold some hope for those who want sports betting to get off the ground in Florida.
One of the attendees, Barbara Havenick (who is partly responsible for a series of horse racing tracks near Miami) described it in colorful terms. “…It’s the first time since I’ve been involved that he’s gotten this whole group together. There’s never been a time that the industry’s been together and hasn’t wanted to kill itself,” she was quoted as saying. There are ongoing discussions about a deal between the state of Florida and the Seminole tribe, which currently owns several casinos and other gambling outlets. Such a deal would kick in once the current deal expires in 2030. If agreed, it is expected to last for 31 years!
Crucially, however, one of the options believed to be on the table is a sports betting function. Press reports suggest, though, that you would need to turn up physically to the gambling areas to play – meaning that the days of betting on the outcomes of basketball, football, baseball and more from home are still far off. It is still legal in the meantime, however, to use offshore-based sportsbooks – but that can pose other problems, such as account creation restrictions. It’s also worth remembering that the sites are not necessarily insured to cater to Florida residents, so if something goes wrong and you have an unpleasant experience then you might not be able to do anything about it.
Florida has had a rough ride when it comes to sports betting in recent years, and the developments are far from over. It’s not clear when, or even if, the Sunshine State will be able to get a law on the books permitting online sports betting, even in the aftermath of changes to PASPA. But with developments like the governor’s round table with stakeholders taking place, there is at least hope for providers and gamblers that the system will be changed sooner rather than later.