Sports betting in Florida close but not yet ready to launch

Sports betting becomes legal in Florida Friday, but you won’t be able to place your bets immediately. Not a single casino in the state has announced a date it will start taking wagers. There are several legal challenges, and those could tie up gambling until 2022.

The good news: It’s very likely there will be some clarity in three weeks. That’s when a judge will hold a hearing for one of the lawsuits challenging the gaming compact between the State and Seminole Tribe.

The Seminole Tribe’s won’t be quite ready come the end of the week. In a new advertisement, it says online and in-person gambling is coming soon.

But there are three lawsuits trying to stop that, including two filed by the group that owns Bonita Springs Poker Room.

“The focus in the short-term is going to be on the Nov. 5 court hearing, which will at least decide in the short-term,” said Attorney Daniel Wallach, a sports betting expert.

“And that’ll be really consequential,” said Attorney John Holden, a sports betting expert.

Wallach and Holden told us that lawsuit argues the mobile betting portion of the compact violates federal law.

If the judge throws out the lawsuit, expect the tribe to launch mobile and in-person sports gambling in the next 60 days.

“That certainly seems to be the operating assumption of what’s coming out of the Hard Rock properties is that they’re planning to launch mobile barring an injunction,” Holden said.

Billions of dollars are on the line, and no one is going down without a fight. Both experts told us the lawsuits are likely a part of the reason the Seminole Tribe won’t be ready to Launch Friday.

But a spokesperson told reporters the tribe never planned to start Oct. 15. That was the date chosen by the legislature back in May.

Expect appeals from commercial sites, including the poker room and anti-gambling groups. If a judge rules in their favor, appeals from the state and the tribe are likely just the same.

“It could be late 2022 before the issue is resolved before a federal appeals court, and then at that point, the losing side will petition the United States Supreme Court to get involved in if that happens,” Wallach said.

Reporter:Sydney Persing
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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