Legal battles could mean a long delay for Florida's online betting industry

Sports gambling
Posted at 4:49 PM, Oct 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-15 17:17:11-04

TAMPA — Tampa’s Seminole Hard Rock Casino can now operate a sportsbook where you can bet on the Buccaneers to win another Super Bowl or the Lightning to win another Stanley Cup.

Even though it’s now legal, Hard Rock officials say they haven’t set a date yet to start.

But it could happen in the next couple of months.

“The law provided the Seminole Tribe with the entitlement to open on October 15th. It didn’t mandate that it open on October 15th," said attorney Daniel Wallach.

Wallach teaches sports betting law and regulation at the University of Miami.

He says sportsbooks will only be in eight locations around the state, and the majority of sports gambling will take place online.

But that’s where the arguments and legal challenging come in.

There are three lawsuits challenging the state’s gaming contract with the Seminole tribe when it comes to controlling mobile betting.

“When someone is placing a wager on their mobile app when they are in Key West, Disney World, or Opa Locka, they are not on Indian land. They are home in their own land and the placing of a computer server on the tribal property doesn’t mean the entirety of the bet takes place on tribal property. There are two sides to a bet," said Wallach.

Experts say Florida’s legal sports betting could bring in more than a billion dollars.

And that’s why others are fighting what they call the Seminole Tribe’s monopoly.

“You have all these other commercial operators. The race tracks, the dog tracks, the jai alai venues. Gambling companies that have existed within the state for almost a century that are being shut out of sports betting. Of course, they are going to challenge this in court," said Wallach.

Wallach says he thinks the lawsuit will block the tribe for online betting and the issue will go back to the voters next November.