Seminoles launch digital sports betting in Florida without announcement

Florida’s online sports betting market went live on Monday after the Seminole Tribe of Florida launched the Hard Rock Sportsbook app.

This comes after the tribe announced on Friday that it had partnered with five Pari-mutuels to offer sports betting in Florida.

Seminoles launch Hard Rock Sportsbook app

On Monday, the Seminole Tribe launched the Hard Rock Sportsbook app in Florida, signaling the launch of legal online sports betting in the state. The launch of sports betting in Florida comes five days before a hearing in federal court seeking an injunction.

The news was first reported by local outlets in Florida and then confirmed by the Hard Rock Sportsbook Twitter account.

According to the Hard Rock Casino website, the tribe’s new sports betting app is available for download on iPhones and Android phones. Hard Rock is offering a $100 risk-free bet for new signups.

Sports betting in Florida could have gone live back on 15 October through the renegotiated gambling compact between the Seminole Tribe and Governor Ron DeSantis. However, that did not happen, instead, the tribe pointed to November 15 as a potential launch date in a court brief.

The Seminole Tribe, owners of the Hard Rock Casino brand, have a monopoly on gambling in Florida. They also own and operate seven Hard Rock-branded casinos in the US.

Under the new compact with the state, any statewide mobile sports betting activity must go through a Seminole Tribe server, however, wagers can be made off of reservations and tribal land.

What about the Seminole’s partners

Last week the tribe announced partnerships with five pari-mutuel operators for sports betting in Florida, but Monday’s launch appears to only be for the Hard Rock platform. It is not yet clear when land-based retail betting will be coming to Florida.

The tribe is currently partnered with Hialeah Park Casino, Ocala Gainesville Poker, Palm Beach Kennel Club, Tampa Bay Downs, and TGT Poker & Racebook.

The pari-mutuels will market the sportsbook at their facilities and to their customers and in return earn 60% of the profits that are generated from their marketing efforts. 

Additional marketing agreements with Florida pari-mutuels are expected to be announced soon.

Legal challenges loom over Florida betting

As previously mentioned, the renegotiated compact essentially granted Hard Rock and the Seminole Tribe a monopoly over Florida sports betting. However, the courts have yet to determine if this is actually legal.

A pair of pari-mutuel operators have filed multiple lawsuits disputing the legality of the compact, claiming that the current set up will significantly damage their businesses.

One lawsuit that was filed in US District Court in Florida was dismissed on 19 October, but a second filed in US District Court in Washington DC is set for a hearing on Friday.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Magic City Casino and the Bonita Springs Poker Room, asked for a decision before 15 November, “which is the date that Plaintiffs contend that the relevant provisions of the tribalstate compact at issue in this case are scheduled to be implemented,” according to court paperwork. However, the Tribe said they never set a target date.

It is not clear what yesterday’s launch means for the lawsuit.

On top of this, other US operators like DraftKings and FanDuel are also looking for a way to enter Florida’s sports betting market. Both operators launched their own ballot initiative for sports wagering back in June, but it has not raised much cash since its first financial filing. If the initiative qualifies, it would need 60% approval to pass