Florida Tribe Will Have Monopoly On Sports Betting For Decades

The U.S. Supreme Court made another landmark decision on legalized sports betting. Maybe not to the effect of the 2016 ruling that killed PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992) — this one opened the floodgates — but it’s still significant and will have cascading effects for decades.

On Monday, June 17, the Supreme Court denied a petition for a writ of certiorari by West Flagler Associates (WFA). They were asking the courts to decide on the legality of a 2021 gambling compact between the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the state — which guarantees the tribe the sole right to mobile sports betting in-state.

For those that need a refresher, three years ago, Florida lawmakers and the Seminole Tribe agreed on a 30-year compact to accept sports wagers. It was an agreement between the two parties — no vote was needed from the public. The exclusive agreement is going to cost the tribe a whopping $20 billion — a pretty penny, but likely worth it to keep competition away. Furthermore, the agreement contained a “hub-and-spoke” model that allows Floridians to wager on apps so long as they’re within tribal lands.

All this is what prompted litigation, not only from WFA, but other groups. Still, it was WFA’s case that made it to the Supreme Court — not to hear, but to decide if it was worth hearing in the first place. The courts said no, effectively keeping all rules intact.

This was WFA’s last chance at overturning the 2021 compact. There’s no higher court than the Supreme Court. Not only that, but at the state level, the Florida Supreme Court already shot down WFA’s petition in March. It wasn’t even particularly close for WGA either. The Supreme Court requires at least four justices to grant certiorari to take up a case. WFA got one from Brett Kavanaugh and that’s it.

What’s The Future Of Florida Sports Betting?

All signs point toward the Seminole Tribe having a monopoly on Florida’s sports betting scene until 2051 when the compact ends. Obviously, they’re a happy bunch and this press release quote after the announcement reinforced that:

“The Seminole Tribe of Florida applauds today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to decline consideration of the case involving the Tribe’s Gaming Compact with the State of Florida. It means members of the Seminole Tribe and all Floridians can count on a bright future made possible by the Compact.”

Bright future indeed. As it stands, the tribe is only allowed to offer sports betting. However, one would have to think iGaming/casino will enter the mix sooner rather than later (by 2026). The current compact would have to extend there too.

The tribe runs its sports betting operation via the Hard Rock Bet app, which went live in November 2023. It previously launched in December 2021, but shuttered after only a month due to the aforementioned litigation. That won’t happen again after this Supreme Court decision, which will be tough for anyone to challenge.

Though, it’s not impossible for different operators to enter the Florida sports betting market. Commercial operators can join via a ballot initiative — no compacts for them. However, it requires 60 percent approval vote-wise, which is a tall task for any bill. Not only that, but the Seminole Tribe will fight it hard. Given their current monopoly, they’ll certainly be well-funded to stop it too.

How Does This Possibly Affect Other States?

Don’t think this Supreme Court decision applies to just Florida. There are cascading effects for the rest of the country, at least that’s what sports betting legal experts believe.

In essence, the Supreme Court is giving the green light to other tribes to create compacts with state legislatures. And if they pony up the money like the Seminole Tribe, the opportunity to strike a deal is very present. In other words, the floodgates are now open.

Eyes are on California’s sports betting possibilities now. Here’s a state without legal sports betting and full of tribal casinos. These tribes attempted a 2022 ballot to legalize — and failed miserably. Now? They can enter into a compact and skip the whole democratic voting process entirely. The Supreme Court is on its side to do so (for now).

California is the big domino to fall given its market-size opportunity. However, it’s not the only domino. Native tribes are also found in other non-legal sports betting states like Oklahoma, for example. We expect this decision to spark another mini-renaissance in legal sports betting. However, we can only imagine this will be through monopolies — not free markets. That’s a negative for big-name sportsbooks like DraftKings or BetMGM, for example.

For bettors who want to bypass these compacts altogether (and the need to bet on tribal land), there are offshore sports betting sites available too. Since these sites are located overseas, they don’t care about any compacts or voting bills. Offshore sites work anywhere and everywhere, plus they’re safe to use too. Well, safe if you’re using one of our suggested sites. The five below are what we recommend the most for online bettors looking for action:

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Eric Uribe

Eric was born and raised in Nevada — the center of gambling in the United States. Throw in his natural interest in sports, and Eric was destined to be a sports bettor. This came to a head once Eric turned 21. Already a working sports journalist while in college, Eric began betting at his local sportsbook. Despite massive losses (at first), Eric continued to chip away at wagering. Eventually, he got half-decent at it. Now Eric is a trusted betting analyst. Not only is he skilled at making picks, but also breaking down the state of the industry — legalization, revenue, and innovation. You can read Eric's writings exclusively on OSB.