It’s always exciting when a state finally gets around to legalizing a sport, but in the case of Florida, it can be a little deflating. After all, the state sports scene is already rather large and active, and having a sport legalized elsewhere already serves as a reminder of just how much interest there is in sports betting in the state already.
Many people have been wondering when, or if, Florida will ever embrace sports betting. The answer, however, is not as far-fetched as you might think. As it turns out, the process of getting a sport legalized in the Sunshine State is already well underway.
The bill to officially legalize sports betting in Florida was passed by the state legislature earlier this year and was signed by then-Governor Rick Scott in May. The bill will become effective on August 31, 2019, which is also the date that many bookmakers have said would be the best choice for legal betting in Florida. August 31 has been given the nickname “Black Friday” because it’s often the day when Internet bookies offer their best rates, enticing new customers to sign up and deposit funds on that day.
The Biggest Obstacle To Legalizing Sports Betting In Florida
To begin with, there’s the issue of whether or not to allow offshore betting. Currently, offshore betting is completely legal in Florida, but state lawmakers have voiced opposition to extending the same legal status to offshore sportsbooks. In the wake of the World Cup, the issue of whether or not to allow offshore betting gained particular attention in the Florida legislature. The general feeling among state lawmakers was that allowing offshore betting would open the door for other, potentially more contentious, forms of gambling.
Those opposed to the legislation cited the example of the World Cup, noting that many people in the state bet on the tournament and that extending legal betting to offshore bookies would mean more people could have an interest in the sport. For her part, Governor Scott did not publicly oppose the bill, but his administration has voiced concerns about the financial implications of having more gambling options.
Another potential roadblock to legal sports betting in Florida is the lack of tribal support. If and when the bill is passed by the Florida legislature and signed into law by Governor Scott, it will become the responsibility of the state to negotiate with sovereign Indian tribes on behalf of the state’s commercial interests. The Florida Indian Gaming Association (FIGA) has already stated that it is in favor of legalizing sports betting in the state, but it will be up to the state to prove that it can be managed responsibly. If the state cannot negotiate favorable terms with the tribes, the bill may never see the light of day.
The situation is far from hopeless, however. Even though the legislative session has long passed and the bill has yet to be signed into law by Governor Scott, the process of getting a sports betting law passed in Florida is far from over. In fact, there is still the matter of getting the date selected for the start of play adjusted so that it lines up with the start of the college football season. This process, too, is already well underway.
A Possible Solution To The Problem Of Starting Play Date
One of the more recent oddities surrounding the bill to legalize sports betting in Florida is the decision to change the start date of football to the first Monday in August. The original proposed start date was September 1, which was the date selected by the NCAA. The decision to move the start of football to August was made in an attempt to increase the odds of the legislation being signed into law before the start of the World Cup. With less than a month for the World Cup to go, it’s still incredibly unlikely that the bill will pass before the end of the month.
Although there are still plenty of obstacles in the way of legal sports betting in Florida, it’s important to remember that what was once considered an impossible dream is now a reality. Just last year, it would have been laughed at to suggest that Florida would one day join the likes of Nevada and Delaware in legalizing sports betting. Instead, Florida is quickly becoming a powerhouse in collegiate sports, and with the support of the state’s active sports community and passionate fan base, it’s only a matter of time before legal sports betting becomes a reality.
There are still plenty of obstacles in the way of full-fledged legal sports betting in Florida. Notable among these obstacles is the fact that the state does not yet have any sportsbooks for people to place bets in. Without these betting facilities, it’s difficult to have a gambling market. Having said that, even at this early stage, it’s clear that sports betting in Florida is bound to become a reality sooner rather than later. The interest in the sport is just too great and the support from within the state’s active community is too strong to allow for a sport to not be legalized at some point in the state’s history.