Online Sports Betting: Will It Be Legal in Florida Anytime Soon?

The sports betting world got a sudden and much needed shot in the arm with the passing of the Federal Sports Law in 2018. Now that legal sports wagering is finally here, it’s time to find out: just how much can we expect to enjoy in the future? Let’s take a quick trip to Florida and see what the experts there think about online sports betting in general, and the future of sports gambling in Florida in particular.

The Good News First

One of the first states to pass legislation allowing for legal sports wagering was Florida. Shortly after the passing of the Federal Sports Law in 2018, the state of Florida went ahead and passed legislation to provide for the licensing of sports betting agencies and the regulation of sports betting within the State of Florida.

One of the main focuses of the Florida Legislature was to establish regulations and licensing requirements for online sportsbetting agencies. The new law provided that no entity engaged in the business of betting or wagering, or who accepts wagers or engages in gambling activity, can operate within the state without first obtaining a license. Moreover, the legislation also outlawed online sportsbooks located outside of the state of Florida unless they are authorized to do business there.

While this may seem like a cumbersome and burdensome law to navigate, it’s actually a step in the right direction for society at large and sports enthusiasts in particular. Now that online sports betting is legal, state-level regulation is crucial to preventing online gambling rings, fixing games, and controlling the spread of gambling.

The Bad News

Although the law passed in Florida with great fanfare, it didn’t go into effect right away. For one thing, the state had to set up a website and register with the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) so that the federal government would know where to send enforcement officials after learning of an online sportsbook’s illegal activities. This process took some time, and as of April 2019, only a few online sportsbooks have received licenses. The vast majority of the 32,000-odd applications are still pending.

This is going to cause a great deal of stress for bookmakers who had to shut down their operations while they waited for the government to get back to them with a decision. When a bookmaker finally gets approved, they could find themselves operating in an expensive and time-consuming legal battle with the federal government.

What’s Next?

With more states looking to follow suit, there’s no clear indication as to how this situation will be resolved. Just as important, though, is keeping an eye on the other side: the NCAA. They’ve already taken a swing at sports betting, filing a lawsuit against the NFL, NBA, and other professional sports leagues over their perceived involvement in illegal betting activity. Although the suit was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, the NCAA isn’t giving up without a fight. They’ve appealed the decision, and the case is still ongoing.

Regardless of how this case turns out, it’s clear that the NCAA doesn’t want to see legal sports wagering. While there’s no indication that they’ll succeed in killing off legal sports betting, they’re doing all they can to stifle it. It’s important to keep in mind that the NCAA is a private organization, and as such, their rules apply to everyone, including their own athletes. Professional athletes, in particular, have a hard enough time earning a living in this day and age. Adding illegal gambling to the equation could prove disastrous for a great number of participants, especially those with sponsorships or affiliations with certain organizations.

Overall Assessment

Overall, it’s a mixed bag. On the one hand, we have the NCAA aggressively fighting against legalized sports betting. On the other hand, we have Florida providing for the legality of sports betting. In the grand scheme of things, it’s clear that the latter far outweighs the former. But until the NCAA decides to drop its pursuit of stopping legalized sports betting, it’s important to remain aware of the many threats that it poses to the establishment of a fully functioning and legal sports betting market.

It’s important to keep in mind that the NCAA is a private group, and as such, their rules apply to everyone, including their own athletes. Professional athletes, in particular, have a hard enough time earning a living in this day and age. Adding illegal gambling to the equation could prove disastrous for a great number of participants, especially those with sponsorships or affiliations with certain organizations. The best solution would be if the NCAA decides to drop its pursuit of stopping legalized sports betting. If that happens, then we’ll likely see a flood of smaller states jumping on board, giving us a true national lottery. Whether or not that will happen remains to be seen.