Tribe Confirms Florida Sports Betting Commencement Next Month

Posted on: November 1, 2023, 10:43h. 

Last updated on: November 1, 2023, 10:43h.

Floridians can anticipate the introduction of legal sports betting next month at tribal casinos in the state, while the availability of mobile sportsbooks remains uncertain.

Hard Rock
The Hard Rock Casino sign at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa. The Seminole Tribe announced its casinos in Florida will begin offering sports betting, craps, and roulette next month. (Image: Seminole Hard Rock Tampa/Facebook)

The Seminole Tribe unveiled its plans to introduce sports betting, craps, and roulette at its six Florida casinos starting on December 7th. These new offerings are made possible through a revised gaming compact between the tribe and the state, which has been mired in legal disputes since 2021.

This announcement follows a recent Supreme Court ruling that confirmed the tribe’s right to offer these games on its own land.

“The Seminole Tribe thanks the State of Florida, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and the U.S. Department of Justice for their support in defending our Compact. Through collaborative efforts, the Tribe, the State, and the federal government have achieved a significant legal triumph,” said Marcellus Osceola Jr., Chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, in a press release.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who signed the compact two years ago, commended the announcement, highlighting the economic benefits the new games will bring, including job creation, increased tourism, and substantial revenue for the state.

Uncertainty Surrounds Mobile Sportsbooks

The announcement did not address the potential launch of a mobile sportsbook in Florida, and the tribe has yet to provide a response to inquiries.

While the Supreme Court ruling resolved a long-running federal lawsuit, it did not determine whether the tribe can accept mobile sports bets placed outside of its land. The gaming compact signed by Governor DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe in 2021 permitted the tribe to operate online sportsbooks accessible statewide, as long as the servers were located on tribal land.

However, the federal case focused solely on the role of the U.S. Department of the Interior, which oversees tribal gaming. The Interior claimed that its approval of the compact only covered activities taking place on tribal lands and that anything else fell outside its jurisdiction.

Consequently, the responsibility lies with state courts to settle the matter. Opponents of the tribe’s sports betting monopoly, led by pari-mutuel operator West Flagler Associates, argue that Florida’s Constitution prohibits anyone, including the tribe, from operating an online sportsbook without first seeking approval from the state’s voters. They have petitioned the Florida Supreme Court to override the governor and state legislature’s decisions.

Governor DeSantis’ office has requested an extension to file a response in the case, and the court has granted an extension until December 1st.

In the meantime, West Flagler recently submitted a notice in the state case citing Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s rationale for dismissing the federal case as additional evidence in support of their claim.

“If the compact authorized the Tribe to conduct off-reservation gaming operations, either directly or by deeming off-reservation gaming operations to somehow be on-reservation, then the compact would likely violate the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, as the District Court explained,” mentioned Kavanaugh in the excerpt highlighted by West Flagler.

Six Casinos to Introduce Craps, Roulette, and Sportsbooks

The rollout of retail sports betting will commence on December 7th at three Seminole casinos in South Florida: Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, Seminole Classic Casino in Hollywood, and Seminole Casino Coconut Creek.

The following day, these new games will also be available at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa, and on December 11th, they will launch at Seminole Casino Immokalee, near Naples, and Seminole Brighton Casino, on the northwest side of Lake Okeechobee.

Hard Rock expects these new games to generate 1,000 employment opportunities in the state.

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