Florida’s early online sports betting launch by Hard Rock Bet

Lea Hogg 2 months ago
Florida’s early online sports betting launch by Hard Rock Bet

Online sports betting took an unexpected turn in Florida this week as Hard Rock Bet launched ahead of schedule, allowing residents access to the Seminole Tribe’s online sports betting platform. The official launch was initially scheduled for Thursday but caught everyone off guard with its early debut on Tuesday afternoon.

Legal Battles and unexpected rollout

In a surprising move, the Seminole Tribe chose to open their online sports betting platform despite ongoing legal challenges. November saw the beta version of the site made available to account holders and members of Hard Rock’s loyalty scheme. While the full launch was anticipated later in the week, Hard Rock President Matt Primeaux announced the early launch on December 5th.

“We’re continuing our rollout of the Hard Rock Bet app in Florida and look forward to the official launch of in-person and mobile sports betting on Thursday,” stated a spokesperson for the Seminoles, as legal battles linger in the background.

Challenges and legal complexities

The legal journey dates back to 2021 when Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a gaming compact with the Seminoles, granting them exclusive rights to offer state-wide online sports betting. The compact’s foundation lies in the “hub-and-spoke” model, creatively working around land requirements in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

This exclusive right faced challenges from parimutuel betting operators, West Flagler Associates and the Bonita-Fort Myers Corporation. Despite initial victories for the parimutuels in federal court, leading to a temporary shutdown of Hard Rock, their fortunes reversed on appeal in June 2023. The compact was largely upheld, raising concerns about potential legal repercussions.

While West Flagler seeks an appeal to the US Supreme Court, the petition remains in the procedural stage, awaiting the formal filing of a writ of certiorari appeal. The outcome of this appeal could force the Seminoles to halt operations again if the Supreme Court rules in favour of West Flagler.

Simultaneously, the legal battle in Florida continues, with the state attorney general responding to West Flagler’s petition. As Hard Rock Bet’s unexpected launch captures attention, the industry awaits the resolution of these legal intricacies that could shape the future of online sports betting in Florida.

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