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The Legality Of Online Sports Betting In Florida Now Faces Challenge In US Supreme Court

A challenge to sports betting in Florida has now reached the highest court in the land as the US Supreme Court is now poised to decide the fate of domestic sportsbooks in the Sunshine State.

History Of Florida Sports Betting

In 2021, the Seminole Tribe of Florida and Governor Ron DeSantis signed a revised gaming compact that granted the state’s Hard Rock Casinos a monopoly on sports betting.

The revised agreement allowed the Seminoles to create brick-and-mortar sportsbooks inside their casinos and also offer online and mobile sports betting across the entire state.

On November 21, 2021, the Hard Rock Sportsbook app debuted in Florida and began accepting wagers from anyone aged 21 or over with access to a smartphone or tablet.

The Hard Rock Sportsbook also accepted wagers online from gamblers using PCs and laptops. This status would only last for thirteen days as all domestic sportsbooks in Florida closed up shop on December 3, 2021.

This was due to a legal challenge by the Bonita Springs Poker Room and the Magic City Casino in U.S. District Court. Judge Dabney Friedrich ruled that the new Florida gaming agreement was illegal, triggering an appeal in federal court by the Seminoles.

Who Is Challenging The Gambling Compact?

West Flagler Associates, Ltd., the owners of the two gambling venues that are challenging the gambling compact in FL, do not believe that the agreement falls in line with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).

The disagreement lies within the online sports betting component. West Flagler Associates believes that any online gambling conducted off of tribal lands violates the IRGA.

The Seminoles and the State of Florida argue that the bet occurs where the servers are located and not on the computer or smartphone that was used to place it. This hub and spoke theory has been backed and rejected along its legal path, and now the US Supreme Court has the power to make the final call.

Although no sports bets have been accepted in Florida for nearly two years, on Thursday, United States Supreme Court Justice John Roberts issued a hold on all FL sportsbooks going forth.

The State of Florida and Seminole Tribe have until October 13th to provide a response to the SCOTUS. Justice Roberts did not provide any rationale behind the hold.

Other Sports Betting Options In Florida

While domestic sportsbooks in FL remain dormant, offshore sports betting sites are currently accepting players in the Sunshine State and allowing them to place wagers on NFL odds, college football, NHL games, the NBA, and most other popular leagues.

This is due to their international standing, which places them under the jurisdiction of gambling commissions outside of the United States. There are no state or federal laws that prohibit the use of legal overseas sports betting sites.

These offshore sportsbooks have been catering to Florida-based players for years now and will continue to do so regardless of what the SCOTUS decides in regard to domestic options. In fact, they’ve been providing legal US sports betting options to bettors in most states for decades in some cases.

CBS News, Bloomberg Law News