Florida Sports Betting Set for October Launch as Seminole Gambling Compact Approved by Federal Regulators

by Natasha Lyndon - Monday, August 9th, 2021 9:50

Federal regulators have passively approved an updated gaming compact that will allow Florida’s Seminole Tribe to launch sports betting products later this year. Although the state expects legal challenges from opponents of the new compact, the Seminole Tribe expects to accept the state’s first legal sports wagers on October 15th 2021.

In a letter sent to both the Seminole Tribe and the state, the Department of the Interior confirmed that it will neither deny nor approve the new gaming compacts agreed between Governor Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe. As a result of the department’s passive stance the letter goes on to state that:

“the Compact is considered to have been approved by operation of law to the extent that it complies with IGRA (Indian Gaming Regulatory Act) and existing Federal law.”

This means that the compact will now become effective as soon as the letter is published in the Federal Register. This is expected to happen at some point this week.

Once the gaming compact takes effect the Seminole Tribe will be allowed to accept sports wagers at retail sportsbooks located at six of its Florida-based casinos. The state’s racetracks and ja-alai frontons will also be allowed to develop their own mobile apps for off-reservation mobile sports betting once they agree to use the Seminole Tribe’s server.

However, the Seminole Tribe and state face some legal challenges with one lawsuit contesting the new compacts pending in federal court and two ballot initiatives that will attempt to challenge the tribe’s right to a monopoly on sports betting. Opponents of the compact also object to the Tribe’s control of the mobile sports betting market.

However, Bryan Newland, principal deputy assistant secretary of Indian Affairs has previously addressed those concerns stating that:

“Multiple states have enacted laws that deem a bet to have occurred at the location of the servers, regardless of where the player is physically located in the state. The Compact reflects this modem understanding of how to regulate online gaming.”

Under the new compact, anyone in Florida who is 21 or older can place an online wager regardless of where they are located in the state once those transactions go through servers located on tribal land. Opponents claim that this is merely a clever ploy to circumnavigate the existing laws and legalize sports betting without proper and specific legislation approved by the state electorate and lawmakers.

One of those opponents is Miriam Adelson, wife of former Las Vegas Sands Corporation CEO Sheldon Adelson. Along with sports betting companies DraftKings and FanDuel, she is behind both ballot initiatives asking voters to approve the building of new commercial casinos and challenging the monopoly of the Seminole Tribe.


Image credit: DonkeyHotey / CC BY 2.0

Natasha Lyndon

Based in London, Natasha is a former sports journalist with experience working for some of the biggest athletes & brands in the world of sports and iGaming.