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Florida Sports Betting

Editor’s note: As of Jan. 13, 2021

Residents of the Sunshine State wanting to place a legal wager on the Tampa Bay Lightning, Jacksonville Jaguars, Orlando Magic, Miami Hurricanes or any of other of Florida’s numerous professional or major collegiate programs should anticipate a cloudy forecast for the foreseeable future.

In November 2018, Amendment 3 was approved through a public referendum and it requires Florida voters – not lawmakers -- to authorize new gambling in the state, which makes approving legal sports betting more difficult.

Another hurdle is the state’s agreed-upon compact with the Seminole Tribe, which handles all casino gaming in the state.

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There was a slight parting of the clouds in the spring of 2019 when Florida Sen. Wilton Simpson began negotiations for a deal with the Seminole Tribe to bring tribe-run sports betting to pari-mutuel venues -- dog and horse tracks and jai alai frontons. Simpson acknowledged the move sidesteps the amendment requiring citizens to vote on the expansion of “casino-type” gambling.

Gov. Ron DeSantis voiced skepticism about the possible deal, expressing concerns about game integrity and state constitutional issues, telling the Tampa Bay Times, “There’s a whole host of things I think need to be vetted through.”

So, for now, Florida and its nine “Big 4” professional sports teams and many competitive college teams from the Gators to the Seminoles to the Hurricanes, remain merely a spectator sport according to state law.

Is sports betting currently legal in the state?

No, and the prospects for anything soon are poor.

What about horse racing?

Despite no realistic prospect of sports betting in the near future it is possible to place wagers on horse racing. You can do this with legally licensed operators like TVG, Bet America, Twinspires, and AM Wager.

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