Court once again allows sports betting in Florida

Reporter: Claire Galt Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

A judge shut down the compact that gives the Seminole Tribe of Florida exclusive control of sports betting over a year ago. However, a higher court recently overturned that ruling.

Florida sports fanatic Miguel Fernandez watches whenever his team plays.

“Everything from Tampa region, Jacksonville, Miami,” said Fernandez.

Watching your team win is fun, but for Fernandez profiting off their win is even better.

“It’s more enticing to fill your pockets,” said Fernandez.

Betting on or even on the sly against those Florida teams can turn a large profit.

“You get more excited when you have something to wager on,” said Fernandez.

sports betting
Electronic machines for sports betting. CREDIT: WINK News

Like many other Floridian sports fans, Fernandez anxiously awaits the return of online sports betting.

“We’ve been missing it for a while– to be told that you’d have to go to Vegas to get all that done,” said Fernandez.

Florida had sports betting for a short time in 2021 before a judge blocked the $2.5 billion compact between the Seminole Tribe and the State of Florida. The deal lets people download the Hard Rock Sportsbook app onto their phones.

“It was certainly the only regulated option in Florida, which I think a lot of people really valued,” said John Holden, gambling expert and professor, Oklahoma State University.

Not everyone agrees. West Flagler Associates, the former owner of Magic City Casino and current owner of Bonita Springs Poker Room, argued the tribe’s expansion into sports betting violated federal Indian gaming laws, which a federal judge agreed with.

“Overnight, the Hard Rock digital product was turned off, and people couldn’t bet anymore,” said Holden.

On Friday, a court of appeals ruled the original judge got it wrong.

“This is going to be, you know, significant for the tribe as well as for the state,” said Holden.

This means the Seminole Tribe has the legal right to take bets on its app again. Holden noted this will likely happen soon, and that’s exactly what Fernandez is looking forward to.

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