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Online Sports Betting Now Open to All in Florida

Posted on: December 5, 2023, 04:48h. 

Last updated on: December 5, 2023, 05:05h.

On Tuesday, the Seminole Tribe’s mobile sportsbook began accepting wagers from anyone in Florida, ahead of the rollout of in-person sports betting and additional games at its casinos beginning later this week.

federal appeals court Seminole Tribe Florida sports betting
A sports bettor downloads the Hard Rock Sportsbook app following Florida’s April 2021 agreement to allow the Seminole Tribe to operate online sports betting. The tribe has reopened the app to all Floridians as of this week. (Image: WFTV)

The move is a sign of optimism on the tribe’s part that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) will ultimately prevail in defending the gaming compact he and the tribe negotiated in 2021, authorizing the expanded gaming.

While legal fights are ongoing, the tribe and its allies scored a series of key court victories over the summer and fall, prompting the tribe to open its Hard Rock Bet sportsbook to a limited pool of customers last month after a two-year hiatus.

I think we are always respectful to the legal process. So until a court makes a decision in a different direction, we move forward,” Hard Rock Chairman Jim Allen told the South Florida Sun Sentinel newspaper.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Hard Rock Bet began advertising itself as open to anyone in Florida over the age of 21.

Court Fights Continue

West Flagler Associates, a pari-mutuel operator, has led the legal battle against the tribe’s sports betting monopoly for the last two years, but its options are dwindling. Its hopes now rest on the US Supreme Court or the Florida Supreme Court, both of which have declined to step in so far.

Hard Rock Bet is throwing its doors open a day after DeSantis and state legislative leaders defended the 2021 gaming compact and urged the Florida Supreme Court to reject West Flagler’s case.

West Flagler has signaled it expects the state case to be decided in the next two months, and it has asked the US Supreme Court to give it until February to file an appeal there in a separate proceeding.

Underlying both cases is West Flagler’s contention that the tribe’s operation of a mobile sportsbook constitutes off-reservation gaming that violates the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and the Florida Constitution. The tribe and its defenders say the approach complies with the law because the Hard Rock Bet computer servers that process the wagers are located on tribal land.

Revenue Boost

The gaming compact was negotiated between DeSantis and tribal leaders in 2021 and approved by the Florida legislature.

It is expected to raise $2.5 billion for the state in its first five years.

In addition to authorizing the mobile sportsbook, the gaming compact also allows the tribe to offer roulette and craps at its six brick-and-mortar casinos in Florida. Those games will begin being offered starting Thursday.

Sports betting is available to anyone over the age of 21.

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