Connect with us

Tampa News

The Seminole Tribe has quietly rolled out “limited” online sports betting



The Seminole Tribe has quietly rolled out "limited" online sports betting.

Following a significant legal triumph and with a looming court confrontation, the Seminole Tribe subtly reintroduced a sports betting app on Tuesday, granting a restricted set of gamblers the ability to make wagers from any location within Florida.

The tribe has unveiled the updated Hard Rock Bet app, which, at present, is exclusively accessible to a select group of players with connections to the Seminoles’ gaming enterprises.

This marks the second instance in two years that the Seminoles have introduced an app permitting Florida residents to engage in mobile sports betting across the entire state.

Under the recent launch on Tuesday, individuals who utilized a 2021 app in Florida or possess loyalty points from the tribe’s “Unity by Hard Rock” casino gambler program are granted “early access” to the app. Others have the option to sign up for a waiting list, as stated on the Hard Rock Bet website.

Similar to their 2021 approach, the Seminoles quietly released the app on Tuesday, without any grand announcement. This low-key launch appears to serve as a means for the Seminoles to assess the app’s stability before a full-scale release.

According to Gary Bitner, a spokesperson for the tribe, “The Seminole Tribe is offering limited access to existing Florida customers to test its Hard Rock Bet platform.”

This move comes in the wake of the tribal leaders’ announcement of their intention to introduce sports betting to their casino operations in December, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s green light in a protracted legal battle regarding sports betting.

In 2021, Governor Ron DeSantis and Seminole Tribe of Florida Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr. signed a 30-year gambling compact that granted the tribe authority over sports betting throughout Florida.

The compact, known as the 2021 deal, also allowed the Seminoles to incorporate craps and roulette into their Florida casinos and establish three casinos on tribal land in Broward County. In return, the Seminoles agreed to pay the state at least $2.5 billion over the initial five years and potentially billions more during the compact’s lifespan, as ratified by legislators.

Given Florida’s substantial population of over 23 million people and the influx of millions of tourists annually, the state has the potential to become one of the most profitable destinations for sports betting in the nation.

However, the sports betting plan encountered legal hurdles, including a federal lawsuit initiated by two pari-mutuel companies challenging the compact.

The focus of the litigation was a “hub-and-spoke” arrangement within the compact that would enable gamblers to place mobile sports wagers anywhere in the state, with wagers being processed by computer servers on tribal land. The compact stipulated that bets conducted “using a mobile app or other electronic device shall be deemed to be exclusively conducted by the tribe.”

Pari-mutuel companies West Flagler Associates and Bonita-Fort Myers Corp. argued that the sports betting provision violated the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act by permitting gambling outside tribal lands.

In November 2021, a federal judge ruled in favor of the companies and halted the compact. However, a Washington, D.C.-based appellate court overturned the ruling, leading to a Supreme Court appeal. On October 25, the Supreme Court allowed the compact to proceed.

The legal disputes are not yet resolved. In September, the pari-mutuel companies and owner Isadore Havenick filed a separate lawsuit with the Florida Supreme Court, alleging that the sports betting arrangement contravenes a constitutional amendment necessitating statewide voter approval for gambling expansions.

The Florida Supreme Court has yet to make a decision on whether to consider the case.


Receive Alerts To The Latest News!

* indicates required