Florida’s Seminole Tribe on Saturday stopped offering digital sports wagering via its Hard Rock Digital platform, less than 24 hours after an appellate court denied its appeal for a stay. The decision marked the third time in less than two weeks that a federal court had ruled unfavorably for the Seminoles after the tribe launched its sportsbook app in the state in early November.
“As a result of yesterday’s Appeals Court decision denying a temporary stay of the District Court’s decision on the 2021 Compact, Hard Rock Sportsbook will temporarily suspend operations of its mobile app in Florida,” Gary Bitner, a Seminole spokesperson, said in a statement. “Account balances for all current players will be refunded as requested.”
According to the announcement on the app, any bets placed for games that began after 11 a.m. ET Saturday would be voided.
First decision was two weeks ago
According to briefings in the appellate court, the Seminoles’ suspension will cost the state $40 million in revenue share per month. But while the suspension certainly puts a kink in the tribe’s plans, it isn’t planning a permanent stop.
On Nov. 22, a U.S. District Court judge deemed the compact between the state of Florida and the tribe illegal and called for it to be vacated. In the case of West Flagler Associates and Bonita-Fort Myers Associates vs. U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Judge Dabney Friedrich of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the Seminoles should revert to their 2010 compact with the state, which includes retail wagering at brick-and-mortar locations, but not mobile sports betting.
Legal sports betting “temporarily suspended” in Florida. All bets for games after 11a ET today voided. pic.twitter.com/WqhrmcXK6J
— Will Gray (@WillGrayGC) December 4, 2021
Dabney wrote that the compact violates the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act by allowing for wagering off tribal lands. The 2021 compact effectively deems that any bet placed in Florida is considered to be on Indian lands if it flows through a Seminole server. After Friedrich found in favor of the plaintiffs and denied an appeal by the Seminoles, the tribe then appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. That court denied the tribe’s request for a stay by a 2-1 vote.
The tribe will continue to fight for its right to offer legal wagering as the case makes its way through the appellate court. No date for oral arguments has been set.
“Despite the decision, the Seminole Tribe looks forward to working with the State of Florida and the U.S. Department of Justice to aggressively defend the validity of the 2021 Compact before the Appeals Court, which has yet to rule on the merits of the 2021 Compact,” Bitner said. “The Seminole Tribe of Florida, the State of Florida, and the United States have all taken the position that the 2021 Compact is legal.”