November 2, 2021 Sports Betting, Tribal, Online

Seminole Tribe quietly launches online sports betting in Florida

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The move comes in contravention of still-pending legal challenge.

The Seminole Tribe has reportedly launched a sports betting app in the state of Florida where the legal status of gambling remains in question. The launch was made quietly, with no official announcement, as it comes amid legal challenges to a ruling which supposedly legalized online betting in the state last May.  

Despite the legal limbo, yesterday saw the app – which uses the Hard Rock Sportsbook platform – become available as people were granted the ability to wager and deposit real money on professional sports such as football, hockey and soccer. 

While Florida is widely regarded as a fecund ground for legalized betting – and though there is certainly the political will to make it happen in the state – the road to legalization has not been without controversy.  

Last spring, governor Ron DeSantis signed an agreement with Seminole tribe chairman Marcelus Osceola Jr., later to be authorized by a special session of the Florida Legislature, which implemented a “hub-and-spoke" system for gambling: bettors throughout the state could place bets but these would run through computer servers on tribal property. In return, the tribe would pay the state billions of dollars of its gambling revenue.  

Taking issue with this arrangement were the owners of the Magic City Casino and the Bonita Springs Poker Room. The joint lawsuit, filed against US Department of the Interior and its secretary, Deb Haaland, claims that the betting is in contravention of federal laws and likely to cause “significant and potentially devastating” harm to their business. A ruling on the matter is expected as soon as Friday. 

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