Florida’s Seminole Tribe on Monday went live with digital sports betting, five days before a hearing in federal court seeking an injunction. Under a compact negotiated last spring, the tribe had the right to go live as early as Oct. 15, but in a court brief had pointed to Nov. 15 as the date.
According to the Hard Rock Casino website, the tribe’s new Hard Rock Sportsbook app is available for download on iPhones and Android phones, and Hard Rock is offering a $100 risk-free bet for new signups. The Seminoles, owners of the Hard Rock Casino brand, have a monopoly on gaming in Florida. They own and operate seven casinos under the Hard Rock banner.
Under the new compact, any statewide mobile wagering must go through a Seminole server, but bets can be made off reservation. The tribe on Friday announced that it had partnered with five parimutuels to offer sports betting in Florida, but it appears that today’s go-live is only via the Hard Rock’s platform.
SLATER SCOOP: Sports betting in Florida has begun.
Hard Rock Sportsbook just started accepting wagers on their mobile app.
— Andy Slater (@AndySlater) November 1, 2021
Live, but lawsuits in the wings
A pair of parimutuels have filed multiple lawsuits disputing the legality of the compact and claiming that such a set-up will damage their businesses.
One lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Florida was thrown out Oct. 19, but a second, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., is set for a hearing Friday. In that lawsuit, the plaintiffs, Magic City Casino and the Bonita Springs Poker Room, asked for a decision before Nov. 15, “which is the date that Plaintiffs contend that the relevant provisions of the tribal state compact at issue in this case are scheduled to be implemented,” according to court paperwork. The Seminoles say they never set a specific target date.
It’s unclear what the implications of the earlier launch are in terms of the lawsuit.
It does not appear that the Seminoles have opened sportsbooks at any of their seven properties.
Monday’s launch was hours before the New York Giants at Kansas City Chiefs Monday Night Football game. Bettors are able to wager on all Week 9 NFL games, the tail end of the college football season, bowl games, and any other sporting events allowed going forward.
Multiple inquiries to the Seminoles were not answered Monday, and neither the tribe nor Hard Rock sent out a press release about the launch.
With the launch, Florida becomes the biggest state by population to have live, legal digital sports betting.