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After years of court battles, online betting is officially back in the Sunshine State. The Seminole Tribe has sole rights to the state’s sports betting industry and launched a limited version of their Hard Rock Bet online sportsbook on Tuesday. Only Floridians who have already used the Hard Rock app when it initially launched in 2021 or those who are Hard Rock loyalty members will have access to place wagers. While that is a limited group, it is a significant step forward for mobile sports betting in Florida.
Though Hard Rock Bet was originally launched in 2021, the industry was quickly halted thanks to a legal challenge from a pair of pari-mutuel betting locations joined under the name West Flagler Associates. They argued that the gaming compact was invalid due to a lack of a public referendum and an improper interpretation of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).
While West Flagler won their initial appeal, they have been losing each stage since. They recently took their case to the US Supreme Court for review, temporarily keeping the industry on hold. That ended when the Supreme Court announced they would not put a stay on sports betting while they consider taking the case.
“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," said Marcellus Osceola Jr., Chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. "By working together, the Tribe, the State, and the federal government achieved a historic legal victory.”
West Flagler was disappointed by the tribe’s decision to re-launch their sports betting app. Though the stay had been listed, West Flagler felt blindsided by the unannounced decision to go live. As a result, they have filed a motion with the Florida Supreme Court to put the industry on hold once again as they consider taking the case.
“Taking advantage of the distraction created by their carefully crafted announcement on Nov. 1, the Tribe has sought to surprise the petitioners and this court by presenting a ‘fait accompli’ on Nov. 7. It has indeed taken live bets as of today,” West Flagler attorney Raquel A. Rodriguez said of the launch.
While West Flagler is still pushing their case, it is becoming clear that their legal strategy has been ineffective. Several courts and the US Department of the Interior have been vocal about West Flagler’s weak argument, making another stay unlikely to be granted.
Michael is an avid sports fan and a veteran bettor from Milwaukee. He learned the trade from his grandfather in Las Vegas as a kid and has turned that into a successful career. He cheers for all Wisconsin pro teams along with his Alma Mater Arizona State. He specializes in baseball betting, but has experience in football, basketball, and hockey as well. When he isn’t pouring over stats, he’s spending time with his two young children.More info on Michael Savio
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