TAMPA — Awash in retired sports celebrities and a hefty collection of former professional wrestlers, the Seminole Tribe of Florida launched craps, roulette, and retail sports betting for the first time at Seminole Hard Rock Tampa on Friday.
The second day of a three-phase rollout for the Seminoles’ six state casinos yielded several interesting footnotes to a two-year legal battle that continues to smolder in the Florida and United States Supreme Courts.
From Hard Rock International Jim Allen
- Oct. 25 was the key day in the re-launch of sports betting in Florida. That’s when the US Supreme Court opted not to extend a temporary stay on a possible re-launch issued by Chief Justice John Roberts. He’d initially granted the stay to allow the court to assess the merits of a petition by West Flagler Associates, who have battled the Seminoles over the 30-year gambling compact signed with the state in 2021. Hard Rock Bet hadn’t taken a sports wager since 2021 when the Court ruled, but a week later announced the retail sports betting, craps, and roulette debut. The mobile app began accepting wagers from existing customers on its mobile app on Nov. 7. West Flagler plans to officially petition the Supreme Court to take up its case. “The plaintiffs were trying to stop us from launching and the court ruled 100% in our favor that they couldn’t do that,” Allen (above center) said. “They can file another appeal to the actual merits of the case. But once we had that in place, we know that process will take at least a year or two. So that’s when we determined we wanted to move forward.”
- Allen is sure Hard Rock is right, but he’s not sure it will soon be done with the courts. “We could still lose, there’s no doubt about that,” he said. “The one thing I can tell you, we certainly talk to all of the major players in this space and it is unanimous. I do not have one of the other big companies that don’t believe in our legal position. Not one. Now that doesn’t mean a judge won’t rule against it.”
- Hard Rock has reached agreements on marketing deals with “about 16” state parimutuel outlets that would allow them to launch their own online sports betting apps. That’s a marked increase from the five deals the Seminoles announced in October of 2021. Palm Beach Kennel Club, Hialeah Park Casino, Ocala Breeder’s Sales Company, Tampa Bay Downs and TGT Poker & Racebook launched Hard Rock Bet-branded online products on Thursday. Allen said each outlet can market as their own entity if they wish, but bets still have to be handled on Hard Rock servers.
- Allen on the handle since the Nov. 7 partial re-launch as compared to the month-long Hard Rock run in 2021 before the operation was ordered to shut down by a federal judge: “Volumes are good.” (Smiling)
- Allen on what Florida State reaching the College Football Playoff could have meant for handle: “I don’t know. But obviously, it’s a shame they didn’t make it.”
- Allen said the Tampa casino will likely not augment its array of betting kiosks and windows with a large-scale sportsbook “until we resolve all the current legal challenges.”
Recent Florida Sports Betting Timeline
- June 30, 2023: A three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, reversed a lower-court ruling that voided the 2021 compact.
- Sept. 26, 2023: West Flagler Associates asked the Florida Supreme Court to prevent Florida sports betting from re-launching.
- Oct. 12, 2023: Chief Justice John Roberts recalls the mandate of the DC Circuit and orders the stay under the Supreme Court can be briefed.
- Oct. 25, 2023; The US Supreme Court denied the stay request, saying the argument is better resolved in Florida.
- Nov. 1, 2023: The Seminole Tribe announced a schedule to launch retail sports betting, craps, and roulette at its six casinos in the state.
- Nov. 7, 2023: Mobile sports betting resumed on Hard Rock Bet app for existing customers.
- Dec. 5, 2023: Hard Rock Bet opens mobile sports betting to new customers, two days earlier than previously announced.
- Dec. 7, 2023: Retail sports betting, craps, and roulette launched at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, Seminole Classic Casino in Hollywood, and Seminole Casino Coconut Creek.
- Dec. 8, 2023: Retail sports betting, craps, and roulette launch date for Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa.
- Dec. 11, 2023: Retail sports betting, craps, and roulette launch date for Seminole Casino Immokalee and Seminole Brighton Casino.