Listen Now! Widespread Florida sports gambling could become reality sooner than you think

Tim Walters
Florida Today
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I remember watching an episode of “The Flintstones” when I was a kid where Fred’s gambling problem was revealed.

The way the story goes, during the early years of his relationship with Wilma, “Betting Freddie,” as he was known, lost everything and vowed to his young wife he would never gamble again.

He held to his word for many years until his antagonistic paper boy, Arnold, challenges him to a bet.

Whenever someone utters the word "bet," Fred hears bells and whistles and quivers and rolls his eyes and repeats the word "bet" over and over like a clucking chicken.

Of course, he continues to lose to Arnold until he loses his TV and living room furniture.

In the end, their neighbors and best friends, the Rubbles, help bail out Fred and he vows never to wager again.

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This is an extreme example of someone with a gambling problem. Looking back on it, I wonder if this episode would get made today because of the outlandish way it depicted his addiction. It originally aired Jan. 5, 1962.

Public opinion on gambling has changed quite a bit since that episode of “The Flintstones” aired some 60 years ago. In fact, it's changed drastically just over the past decade.

I’m not here to argue the good or bad of gambling. That’s for politicians, and people who are pro and con for gambling.

But whether people like it or not, gambling is becoming more — not less — prevalent.

So it's better to understand it than ignore it.

In the state of Florida, sports gambling as of this year can now be done in person at multiple locations having to do with Florida’s Seminole Tribe.

The Seminoles also had a short-lived sports betting app for the state that went live in November, but it was pulled after a month on Dec. 4 after a series of court rulings against the legality of sports betting in Florida.

In the meantime, FanDuel and DraftKings are working on a ballot initiative that would legalize widespread online sports betting in Florida. That may be on the ballot in November 2022. If passed, Florida sports betting could be live in 2023.

There’s a lot going on, and a lot of people are waiting to cash in on what is expected to be a multibillion-dollar business for the state.

On the latest episode of “The *State* of Sports Podcast,” powered by the USA TODAY Network, I speak with Nigel Wheatstone, the East Central Florida creator of a betting app called Vegas Lit Games.

Vegas Lit Games, which does not allow actual cash sports betting in keeping with state laws, serves as a safe space where novice gamblers can learn the tricks of the trade without risking gobs of cash.

Wheatstone, a native of England, also has some other ideas on how his app can be used to pit individuals and even sports bars against each other in games of skill and chance.

He also has the potential to cash in if and when sports gambling is legalized in Florida.

Wheatstone also explains why gambling is limited to Seminole land, why the Seminole app was banned after just a few weeks, what sports betting will look like in Florida’s near future and how gambling apps limit use to only states where it is legal to use them.

If you've been wanting to learn more about the sports gambling issue but didn't know where to turn, this is your place.

Join the tens of thousands that have downloaded us and find out why it gives you the best sports breakdowns in the state.

We can be downloaded wherever you listen to podcasts, or simply type in “The *State* of Florida Sports Podcast” into your favorite search engine and you’ll find several options to listen on, including Spotify. We also can be found on any of the 17 USA TODAY-Network Florida websites.

If you like it, you can check out previous shows, which feature current and former professional athletes and coaches, as well as our stable of journalists who cover beats and write columns, all of whom have a tie to the Sunshine State.

Contact Walters at twalters@gannett.com

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