Pari Mutuels Continue to Fight Against Florida’s Sports Betting Plans

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  • Florida’s lawmakers approved a sports betting compact with the Seminole Tribe in May of this year. 
  • Several pari-mutuel companies have pushed against these plans, arguing they are unconstitutional. 
  • Officials within the Seminole Tribe remain confident that their first sportsbooks will go live this fall. 

Officials in Florida have been working hard to launch the state’s sports betting industry. It hasn’t been easy, largely due to the legal battle being waged between several pari-mutuel companies and the Seminole Tribe. Despite the backlash, the fight against Florida’s sports betting plans continues.

There is reason to be optimistic here. Many are still expecting the state’s first sportsbooks to launch within a few weeks. Now is a great time to talk about how things are moving here.

Let’s get into it!

Florida’s Sports Betting Plans Still Face Legal Hurdles

Millions of Florida residents have been calling for legal sports betting options to become available since PASPA was removed in 2018. This process has been more difficult than some initially expected. Lawmakers have needed to come with several agreements with various groups across the state.

The main focus was coming to a deal with the Seminole Tribe. This tribal group already controls much of Florida’s gaming industry. Eventually, Governor DeSantis signed a measure that allows the Seminole Tribe to offer online sports betting options across the state.

Several pari-mutuel companies immediately pressed against this measure. They argue that allowing the Seminoles to launch statewide online sports betting goes against the state constitution. The tribe argues that it is legal, as their servers will be based on tribal land. A filing by the pari-mutuel groups argues that the DOI and tribe have an unfair agreement set in place.

“Not only is there no conflict of interest between the Tribe and the Defendants, but Defendants issued the DOI [Department of Interior] Letter that expressly discussed the online sports betting provisions and articulated their reasons for believing them to be legal,” the filing said. “The Tribe is not an indispensable party to this dispute; its interests are fully protected by the Department’s presence in the case and other available measures; and declining to hear the case on the merits would work a substantial injustice on Plaintiffs [the pari-mutuels] and the public.”

The legal battles over Florida’s sports betting plans continue. The Department of Interior continues to review the measures being proposed here. Florida’s legislature has maintained that no online sportsbooks will go live in the state before October 15.

When Will the First Sportsbooks in Florida Go Live?

This is the question that millions are still asking. The legal battles taking place here have delayed the plans to launch any sportsbooks. Still, the Seminole Tribe has always maintained that no sportsbooks would go live until the fall.

The current plan is still for Florida’s first sportsbooks to go live at some point this fall. That could mean before the end of October. Much will depend on how the lawsuits involving the pari-mutuel companies end up playing out.

Gary Bitner, a spokesman for the Seminole Tribe, has still not set a firm launch date for any sportsbooks. He claims the tribe was never obligated to launch these platforms on October 15. It’s clear that the tribe is working to get these options available as quickly as possible, though.

The pari-mutuel companies here are working to get a measure to allow them to launch online sportsbooks on the 2022 ballots. This could also allow for major commercial betting companies to break into the state, too. It will be interesting to see how the Seminole Tribe responds to these efforts.

Several other states are also working to get their first sportsbooks operational. Here’s a quick look at some of the latest efforts to get sports betting options up and running around the country.

More States Face Issues Launching Sportsbooks

The US sports betting industry has grown faster than most anticipated. PASPA’s removal opened the doors for all states to legalize sports betting. More than half the country now has legal, regulated sportsbooks up and running.

Some of the biggest sports betting markets in the country remain untapped, though. That includes California, the most populous state in the country. Lawmakers are working to come to agreements with various tribal groups here and hope is that a sports betting bill finds its way to the voting ballots in 2022.

Massachusetts is another state with a massive sports fan base. The House passed a sports betting bill here over the summer. Unfortunately, Massachusetts’ Senate recently informed the public it has no plans to approve a sports gambling bill in 2021.

Even some lawmakers in Texas are working to allow sports betting. The Lone Star State is known for its intense anti-gambling laws. Things are beginning to change, however, and sports betting could become legal here within a year or two.

What do you think about Florida’s sports betting plans? When do you expect the first sportsbooks to go live in this state? Let us know in the comments section below.

Kevin Oldroyd

A longtime sports and gambling enthusiast, Kevin looks to present up-to-date and reliable information for readers. If he’s not writing, he’s probably watching MMA or playing blackjack. ...

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