Florida Receives Approval For Sports Betting With No DOI Action

  • Florida’s sports betting industry could be up and running by October 15.
  • This approval allows for the setup for sports betting in Florida to begin.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida’s sports betting compact with the Seminole Tribe was approved on Friday to allow the Seminole Tribe to offer online and mobile sports betting. Friday was that last day for the United States Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs to approve the compact and by not taking any action, they tacitly approved of the plan to bring mobile sports betting to Florida.

Hub And Spoke Tribal Betting

The method by which the Tribe would bring sports betting to Florida - with servers hosted on tribal land and partnerships extending their reach - is referred to as the hub-and-spoke model, with the tribal land serving as the hub.

As any expansion of sports betting in Florida would normally be subject to voter approval, this method allows sports betting to be expanded under the auspices of a tribal compact, which is specifically not subject to such approval.

The issue at play is the fact that many online gambling players will be placing bets while not located on tribal land - only the servers will be located on tribal land. This has not been attempted before under the Indian Gaming Regulation Act, the main governing law of tribal compacts.

This put the expansion in fairly precarious territory - there was a chance that the Bureau would not look kindly on this kind of gamesmanship, and there is still a chance that there will be lawsuits regarding provisions of the compact.

Bryan Newland, deputy assistant secretary for Indian affairs, seemed to indicate the Bureau was more or less fine with the deal as constructed.

“Pursuit of mobile gaming is in-line with the public policy considerations of IGRA to promote tribal economic development, self-sufficiency, and strong tribal governments,” said Newland. “The Department will not read restrictions into IGRA that do not exist. Accordingly, provided that a player is not physically located on another tribe’s Indian lands, a tribe should have the opportunity to engage in this type of gaming pursuant to a tribal-state gaming compact,” Newland continued, in a seeming endorsement of the hub-and-spoke model’s legality under IGRA.

While legal challenges are still forthcoming, this means that Florida’s online sports betting fans can look forward to potentially gambling on the NFL and college football as early as October 15.