Seminoles Launching Florida Sports Betting in December with Six Hard Rock Bet Retail Locations

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The Seminole Tribe of Florida has announced its plans to launch sports betting, craps, and roulette at all six of its casinos in the state, under the Hard Rock brand. The new Sunshine State retail sportsbooks will launch in December, after a turbulent journey for the Seminoles. The Tribe initially agreed to a new gaming compact with Florida in April 2021, signed off by state governor Ron DeSantis.

However, the compact faced a series of legal challenges that prevented the tribe from moving forward with its expanded gambling plans. The legal fight is not yet completely over. But a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that went in the Seminoles’ favor paved the way for this announcement.

The Seminoles previously launched Florida online sports betting in 2021, but it was shut down after just two weeks in action. In the intervening time, the Hard Rock Sportsbook has been rebranded to Hard Rock Bet.

“The Seminole Tribe of Florida’s new initiative will create jobs, increase tourism, and provide billions in added revenue for our state,” Governor DeSantis said in a release. “I was proud to work with the Tribe on our historic Gaming Compact and I look forward to its full implementation.”

Retail Sports Betting Rollout

Florida’s bettors will soon be able to place wagers at retail locations, beginning on December 7 at three Florida casino venues: Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, Seminole Classic Casino in Hollywood, and Seminole Casino Coconut Creek.

The following day, the new games and sports betting will be available at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa. On December 11, they will launch at Seminole Casino Immokalee near Naples and Brighton Casino on the northwest side of Lake Okeechobee.

The announcement comes after the Supreme Court last week solidified the tribe’s right to offer the new games on its own land. The Supreme Court had previously issued a stay on a District Court ruling that favored the Seminoles, while Florida gambling operator West Flagler, formulated its case for appeal.

However, that was rescinded last week, meaning there is nothing legally stopping Hard Rock Bet from launching retail betting in Florida.

The only consideration is whether the Supreme Court might eventually rule against them, shutting them down again. But given the court’s rejection of the requested stay, it suggests they are on the Seminoles’ side of the argument.

“The Seminole Tribe thanks the State of Florida, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and the U.S. Department of Justice for defending our Compact. By working together, the Tribe, the State, and the federal government achieved a historic legal victory,” said Marcellus Osceola Jr., chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, in a press release.

Mobile Betting Still Contentious

While the Supreme Court’s decision ended a years-long federal lawsuit, it still leaves questions around whether the Tribe can accept mobile sports bets placed anywhere else in the state.

The compact DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe agreed to in 2021 authorized the tribe to operate Florida online sports betting, accessible anywhere within the state – so long as the servers themselves were located on Tribal land.

However, the Supreme Court case was narrowly focused on the role of the U.S. Department of the Interior, which oversees Tribal gaming. Interior said its approval of the compact only went as far as authorizing activity that actually took place on Tribal lands, and that anything else was outside of its purview.

That appears to leave the decision on online betting in the hands of state courts, where West Flagler are still pressing their case. West Flagler and its allies say that the Florida Constitution prohibits anyone, including the Tribe, from operating an online sportsbook without first putting the question to the state’s voters, and they are asking the Florida Supreme Court to effectively overrule the governor and state legislature.

DeSantis’ office has requested an extension to file in the case, and the court has extended the response deadline to December 1. Last week, West Flagler filed a new notice in the state case, citing Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s reasoning in dismissing the federal case as additional evidence for their state claim.

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