Sports betting in Florida just got as easy as ordering pizza

By on November 2, 2021 0

ST. PETERSBURG – The casino is now open. All day, every day, on your phone.

Want to bet on a Lightning game? It is quite legitimate today. Do you like the odds of the Bucs winning back-to-back Super Bowls? Just download the app. Want to put money on a Korean baseball game or a Premier League football game? You can do this when you are stopped at a traffic light.

Life in Florida has changed this week, and I’m not sure yet if that’s a hyperbole or an understatement. But if you care about sports and have a credit card, it could be a seismic moment.

Betting on sporting events in Florida has gone from being illegal to as easy as ordering pizza.

Without confetti or conversation, the Seminole Tribe unveiled their online sports betting program for Florida residents on Monday. No more bookmakers, flights to Vegas or cop hiding places. All kinds of betting are literally at your fingertips if you’ve got a smart phone and a little gambling in your soul.

Just a caveat: it could be stuck by Friday.

As the U.S. Supreme Court paved the way for states to legalize sports betting in 2018 – and Florida has been slower to act than most – there are still legal challenges ahead.

South Florida parimutual owners will argue in federal court later this week that the Seminole Tribe’s online plan is invalid. This case is one of many that challenges the idea of ​​whether routing online bets through Seminole computers is tantamount to betting on tribal lands. There are also complaints that the state’s agreement with the Seminoles violates a constitutional amendment passed by Florida voters in 2018 that regulates the expansion of gambling in Florida.

Legal distinctions aside, this could have a dramatic economic impact in the state.

Florida immediately jumps to the top of the list of most populous states with legalized gambling. And, if you think there is no appetite for online betting here, I think you are going to be shocked. The state is guaranteed $ 2.5 billion in payouts over the next five years from the Seminoles (which also includes the expansion of craps and roulette), and that gives you an idea of ​​how profitable it all is. the world expects it to be.

New Jersey has already overtaken Nevada in terms of online sports betting, handling more than $ 750 million in bets in a single month this summer, according to industry reports.

It wasn’t that long ago Major League Baseball and the NFL treated gambling as a bane, but now they have partnership deals with casinos and daily fantastic sports betting. If you’ve watched the World Series for more than 30 minutes, you’ve seen in-game programming designed to whet gamers’ appetites.

And that’s just the beginning.

The potential for gambling sites to secure sponsorship deals, or even naming rights for stadiums, could provide teams with a significant influx of cash. Earlier this year, the Arizona Diamondbacks signed a deal with Caesars Entertainment to develop a bookie, bar and broadcast studio adjacent to the team’s stadium in Phoenix.

Can it happen around here?

It is certainly in the realm of the possible. Hard Rock already has sponsorship with the Rays, and legalized sports betting seems to provide additional synergy.

The question is whether the Seminoles will feel the need to invest more in local professional teams and stadiums. Because their deal with the state gives them a virtual monopoly – aside from some side deals required by the state with pari-mutuel sites to provide additional sports betting on the spot – there aren’t many incentives to invest in stadium projects.

Maybe a virtual bookie / restaurant / bar in a new baseball stadium could increase the betting volume, but will it be enough to justify the tribe’s investment?

In a way, a sports betting app is tailor-made for this state. Florida is big enough to have nine professional franchises in the NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB, but the state also has a largely indifferent population when it comes to stadium and arena attendance. We tend to follow our teams from the living room more than the bleachers.

And now the Seminoles can reach those fans without asking them to get out of the La-Z-Boy.

Which brings us to a second caveat:

Betting on a game is easy to do. ridiculously easy. For some, maybe terribly easy.

Basically all you need is a credit card or PayPal to transfer money to a Hard Rock account, the last four digits of your social security number to verify your identity and activate the services of tracking on your phone to prove you’re okay in Florida while making a bet.

Within minutes of reading a story about the stealthy rollout of digital betting by Hard Rock, I downloaded the app, created an account, and wagered $ 20 on the Monday night football game that was about to start. Three hours later, I was $ 20 less.

Depending on your point of view, it may seem overwhelming or overwhelming.

In Florida, I feel it will be both.

John Romano can be contacted at [email protected]. Follow @romano_tbtimes.

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