Floridians who enjoy a sports wager or two have been waiting for online betting to resume since 2021, when the Seminole Indians launched their app but then suddenly deactivated it only a few weeks later in the face of legal challenges. The app returned in the midst of the heavily-bet NFL season, with the Super Bowl just a couple of months away.
The Hard Rock also announced craps and roulette tables, as well as its in-person sports book, went live on Dec. 7 at the Hard Rock and other Seminole casinos in South Florida.
Here is an explanation of the online sports betting scene in Florida — and possible ongoing legal proceedings that could upend the whole thing yet again.
What’s the Hard Rock Bet app?
The Hard Rock Bet is an app that can be downloaded by those over 21 to provide users with the chance to bet on games in the NFL, NBA, NHL, college football and much more. That includes golf, tennis, darts, MMA, handball, snooker and motor spots, among others.
It’s the only online sports betting platform in Florida. To bet, players must create an account and be physically located within the borders of the state of Florida. The online wagers are processed by servers that are located on the Seminole Indian reservation.
The app, which bettors can fund through their Venmo account, also includes a variety of features to entice gamblers, such as its “flex parlay” that allows users to still pocket something even if they lose one leg of their parlay and daily “boosts” on certain bets that increase the payouts.
What about the legal challenges?
They aren’t over.
“There are always going to be legal matters pending, including one or two right now, but since the coast seems clear, I don’t think the Seminole Tribe felt it was worth waiting even longer” before turning the app back on, said Andy Slater, talk show host on Fox Sports 640 South Florida.
Slater was referring to a case brought by West Flagler Associates, which operates the Magic City Casino and is seeking to stop the betting app. West Flagler now pushing to get its case before the U.S. Supreme Court, possibly early next year. And Florida’s Supreme Court also may weigh in on the issue.
West Flagler is suing the state and Gov. Ron DeSantis over the compact between the state and the Seminoles giving them the right to expand gaming. West Flager argues that it violates a Florida constitutional amendment that the group says requires statewide voter approval of gambling expansions.
“This is going to have a national impact depending on the outcome of these cases. You could see other tribes trying to legalize sports betting if [the Supreme Court of the United States] clears it,” said Robert Linnehan, writer and editor for XLMedia, who has been covering the Florida sports betting showdown. “That is when it gets interesting.”
Could there be betting kiosks at the stadiums?
That seems like it might be a good wager.
In fact, what looks like betting kiosks with computer screens have already been installed at the Hard Rock Stadium in public areas but they are not yet operable, according to photos posted on social media by BeatinTheBookie, which has been following sports betting in Florida.
“They will have kiosks in Hard Rock Stadium, Amerant Arena and others,” said a representative of BeatinTheBookie. “I assume they’ll be in every stadium by next year in Florida.”
The Hard Rock/Seminoles didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Is South Florida the next Las Vegas?
For his part, Slater said he believes that Florida will get the attention of the big bettors with the Seminole expansion of gaming, both online and at its casinos.
“Adding craps, roulette and sports wagering gives Florida what Vegas has,” Slater said. “Casino hosts will now be able to get players to come to Florida because it’s not lacking anything gaming-wise. Florida is now a huge player.”
The reopresentative of BeatinTheBookie added, “Florida will be larger than Las Vegas; it’s gonna be the biggest state for sports betting.”