Florida’s Hard Rock Bet Relaunch In the Cards After New Ruling

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Hard Rock Bet, the online sports betting and casino arm of Hard Rock International, may soon be able to relaunch its long-awaited Florida online sports betting service.

This move comes after Monday’s decision from the U..S Court of Appeals, which ruled against a rehearing of a long-standing case against Hard Rock International’s owners, the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

If the main appellate, Florida casino operator West Flagler Associates, does not contest the decision by September 19, then Hard Rock Bet has a legal pathway to relaunch.

Experts say the legal battle may not be over completely, as West Flagler may pursue other options. But going down those roads takes time. So, for now, a Hard Rock Bet relaunch is back on in its operator’s home state.

During this whole two-year legal saga, Hard Rock nationally relaunched its previous sports betting app, Hard Rock Sportsbook. In July, it reopened as a newly combined online casino and sports betting platform, Hard Rock Bet.

Contentious Case

This legal battle began with West Flagler Associates and Bonita-Myers, owners of properties in Florida. They initiated a lawsuit against the statewide launch of mobile sports betting in 2021.

The crux of their argument was based on the legality of a $2.5 billion gaming compact signed in April 2021 between the state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe. They contended that the U.S. Department of the Interior should have rejected the compact, alleging it violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).

Despite the ongoing legal challenge, the Seminole Tribe, under the Hard Rock Sportsbook brand, went ahead and launched mobile sports betting in November 2021.

This bold move was short-lived, as they had to shut down their operations just three weeks later when a District Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. The court asserted that the compact did indeed breach the IGRA.

Approximately 18 months later, in July 2023, a three-judge panel unanimously reversed the decision, ruling in favor of Hard Rock.

West Flagler, not deterred by the reversal, quickly requested a rehearing in early August.

This again halted Hard Rock Bet’s plans to launch in Florida. However, the Department of the Interior stepped in for comment and said it was not a warranted appeal. The U.S. Court of Appeals has now officially concurred with this view.

“Upon consideration of the appellees’ petition for rehearing en banc, the response thereto, and the absence of a request by any member of the court for a vote, it is ordered that the petition be denied,” said the Monday ruling.

What Lies Ahead for Hard Rock Bet?

With this decision, it seems there are no legal barriers preventing Hard Rock Bet from relaunching its sports betting platform in Florida.

However, the actual relaunch might require more time for preparation. While Hard Rock was gearing up for the NFL season launch in August, it might need more than a week to be fully operational.

Moreover, there may be some wariness to launch, given the potential remaining legal options from West Flagler and the outcome of the previous attempt in November 2021.

The plaintiffs are expected to petition the Supreme Court and request a stay. If approved, Hard Rock would have to halt operations once again. Yet this entire process could span several months.

Previous Hard Rock moves show they aren’t afraid of launching whenever legally feasible. So, they might decide that offering football betting for a significant portion of the 2023 NFL season is worthwhile before any further legal clarity emerges.

Hard Rock Bet currently operates sports betting apps in multiple U.S. states, including Arizona, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, and Virginia. In New Jersey, they offer an online casino and sports betting service.

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