Florida’s gambling space is ever-changing. Land-based casinos are allowed. Poker, horse racing, lotteries, and for-charity casinos are permitted. For a long time, dog racing was also legal, but the Sunshine State plans to shut down this industry by the end of this year.
Online gambling and Daily Fantasy Sports aren’t legal. But they aren’t banned, either. That’s why FanDuel and DraftKings accept DFS bets from Floridians even though they don’t have licenses to operate in the state.
Online casinos operate similarly. Floridians can play slots and blackjack at websites based in Europe or Latin America. But their government doesn’t collect any taxes from them.
So, why can’t Florida act to legalize all forms of gambling? New Jersey did it in 2018 and now makes more through sports betting than Nevada.
Lack of Political Goodwill
Both Senators and House members in Florida have rejected calls to legalize online gambling for several years. Last year, Governor Ron DeSantis showed support for a new bill to permit online sports betting.
But in the usual style, house and senate legislators disagreed on regulating the betting in the industry. DeSantis isn’t free from blame in the gambling space. His biggest sponsor is casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a man who’s against legalizing online casinos.
That explains why the governor is too picky on the forms of gambling to legalize. Last year, he had another chance to seal a $330 million revenue-sharing agreement with tribal casinos. But he rejected the deal citing it was tabled too late and that it was not part of his campaign agenda.
On the flipside, New Jersey’s lawmakers have been supportive of the gaming industry since 1992. They’ve supported their cause so loyally that they sponsored the bill that brought down the PASPA Act in 2018.
A Divided Gambling Sector
The gambling space in Florida is pretty divided. Lawmakers can’t agree on what should be legalized. And they can’t explain why some forms of gaming can’t be allowed. Precisely, brick and mortar casinos are authorized. But the Sunshine State won’t accept betting websites.
This is the contrast of New Jersey, where nearly all forms of gambling are allowed. From sports betting, horse racing and poker to online casinos, bingo and DFS, everything can be wagered legally in the Garden State.
The result is that New Jersey has a commission that regulates all gambling businesses in the same way Britain and Malta do. Another benefit is that casinos in NJ can offer thousands of betting positions. And in turn, they can produce the maximum revenue possible.
An Unfavorable Business Environment
As it is written in this article on this article on studybreaks.com, Online casinos in New Jersey are on the verge of overtaking Nevada as America’s sports betting capital. And not many people are surprised. Garden State has been incredibly supportive of gambling investors even before the Supreme Court struck off PASPA in 2018.
NJ’s former Governor, Chris Christie, was one of the biggest proponents of legalizing online gambling. He had high hopes for the industry and expected it to yearly generate his state over $150 million.
Although New Jersey didn’t generate $150m in taxes the first year it legalized online gambling, it has since hit that mark. Of course, tremendous support from local politicians and a favorable business environment are the two reasons it succeeded.
In contrast, Florida is often in a constant war with gambling operators. The only safe gaming investor is Sheldon Adelson, Ron DeSantis’ friend, and financier. Everyone else—Seminole casinos, greyhound racing businesses, online casinos, and DFS websites- have experienced problems with the Florida government.
This might come as a surprise, but fear is the driving force behind Florida’s reluctance to authorize gambling forms. Let’s break it down. The Sunshine State doesn’t want to legalize online casinos to protect children and vulnerable players.
On the surface, Florida has a valid concern. If unregulated, there would be nothing to stop kids from creating online gaming accounts. Additionally, problem players would waste away their savings without getting the help they need.
But when you think about it, Florida’s fears have all been addressed by New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. These jurisdictions figured how to keep away children and vulnerable players from gaming sites.
Of course, Florida could also find solutions to all the fears it has regarding online gambling. But politicians don’t have the goodwill or the courage to take a leap of faith.
It’s not like Florida doesn’t need the money that comes with legalizing gaming. It needs it badly, especially now that its revenue from land-based casinos is at an all-time low. And that’s a big reason it should authorize the industry.
Besides New Jersey, there aren’t many states that legalized online gambling recently that can provide a benchmark of its benefits. In fact, most states are yet to make the millions of dollars proponents of the industry promised pre-PASPA.
However, that is bound to change as more states legalize sports betting, online casinos, or both. New Jersey is already attracting over $3.2 billion in sports bets and over $400 million in taxes.
If more states witness a similar level of success, Florida will feel the pressure to promote a friendly environment for online gaming businesses. Some financial analysts tout Florida could make $500 million in the first year it legalizes online gaming.
The Seminole Tribe
The Seminole Tribe has too much control in Florida. It owns twelve casinos and has exclusive rights to provide nearly all gambling forms in the Sun Shine State. In all fairness, it generates $2.5 billion in revenue and employs over 15,000 people.
However, the Tribe’s dominance is a significant reason Florida’s gambling space isn’t as advanced as New Jersey. Sure, some of the Tribe’s casinos are pretty stylish. But what makes New Jersey so successful is that it allows competitors to thrive.
You can walk into any gambling establishment in Garden State, and you’ll find a wide range of betting positions. More interestingly, you can switch on your iPhone and play slots or card games hassle-free.