Analysts say Florida sports betting market could be largest in US

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Even with Seminole Tribe as gatekeeper, Sunshine State could see $12 billion in annual handle.

Just days after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis reached a compact agreement with the Seminole Tribe for retail and online sports betting, analysts said the market has the potential to the largest in the US.

Dustin Gouker, analyst for the PlayUSA.com network, which includes PlayFL.com, predicted the Sunshine State could see $12 billion in handle each year, despite the Tribal compact having some features not seen anywhere else in the country.

Gouker said the state’s agreement positions the Seminole Tribe as a sort of sports-betting gatekeeper, as sportsbooks will operate under the Hard Rock brand.

The compact still must be approved by the state legislature, and legal challenges to the deal have already been threatened, Gouker added. If it gets the green light, Florida will join 26 US states and Washington, DC, in approving regulated sports betting; 22 of those jurisdictions have launched.

PlayFL projects by the third year, Florida’s retail and online sportsbooks could generate between $8 billion and $12 billion per year, with $10 billion annually a likely target. That handle could create more than $1 billion in operator revenue.

The compact calls for a 13.75% revenue share from Tribal operations and 10% from pari-mutuels, meaning sports betting could see the state take in more than $125m each year.

“Assuming the industry launches with the current framework in place, there is little question that sports betting will drive a massive amount of revenue for the state,” Gouker said in a statement. “This is a unique design, with no direct comparisons among markets that are already active, but with Florida’s large population, the brand recognition of Hard Rock, a framework that leaves room for more participants, and a reasonable revenue-sharing structure, Florida will have a higher ceiling than any other market to date.”

Eric Ramsey, analyst for PlayUSA.com and PlayFl.com, said the structure in Florida “won’t be quite as ideal for consumers as a truly open and competitive market, with a robust roster of operators competing vigorously to attract their attention.”

He added: “But unlike truly closed markets such as New York or New Hampshire, the revenue-sharing structure leaves more room for the operator to create an appealing product and promote it. Florida has so many positive attributes the market should flourish.”

Ramsey noted Florida has more than 20 million residents, and would become the largest state to date to legalize and regulate sports betting, surpassing Illinois and Pennsylvania.

Florida is home to multiple franchises in each major North American professional sports league, 13 universities with NCAA Division I athletics, the best-known NASCAR event in the country plus other auto races, and multiple PGA Tour events. All of which will help boost local interest, Ramsey added.

Florida is also host for several college bowl games, NCAA Tournament games, baseball’s Spring Training, and frequent Super Bowls.

“The process to legalize sports betting has been unusual so far, but the appeal of Florida’s market is obvious,” Ramsey continued. “Florida should be able to count on an unusual amount of action flowing in from other states because of its appeal as a sports tourism destination, bolstering what already will be the largest local customer base. As it stands now, there is no other market in the US quite like Florida.”

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