In Florida, the future could be a gambling destination to rival Las Vegas, where tourists can enjoy similar games, weather, and beaches. However, there are legal and cultural hurdles that may prevent it. The Seminole Tribe has announced the return of in-person sports betting and is expected to drive tourists and businesses to the area and bring in billions of dollars. However, various legal battles are ongoing, including a motion filed by the tribe’s opponents seeking to suspend sports betting in Florida. The tourism and hospitality industry may be dampened by the uncertainty over the legal situation, leaving people with questions and uncertainties instead of excitement.
Legal experts believe that long-term the odds are in favor of sports betting’s return, which would make South Florida even harder to resist. Yet, Florida faces its own hurdles, with political and cultural attitudes that may prevent the region from becoming the next Vegas. Major sportsbooks, including DraftKings and FanDuel, have already faced opposition in their attempts to expand gambling in Florida, and Disney, which is a major opponent of gambling, lobbied for an amendment that requires a majority of Florida voters to approve any further expansion of gambling in the state, which is now being used to challenge the expansion of sports betting before the state Supreme Court. In addition, the Seminole Tribe would have complete control over sports betting under the gaming deal, which may pose a threat to Disney’s family-friendly image, and another obstacle to the expansion of sports betting in Florida.
Despite these hurdles, the potential boost to the tourism and overall economy could help fund schools, roads, and infrastructure, such as in South Florida’s flood-prone areas. Sports betting is estimated to total over $41 billion in economic output, under a scenario in which it is fully legal and available in person and online. While some say that the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive and that tourists may enjoy both family-friendly activities and casino visits, others see the legal and cultural obstacles as insurmountable for Florida’s transformation into a Las Vegas rival.