Starting in December, Floridians will once again be able to wager on sports legally.
Following a lengthy legal battle, an appellate court reinstated the 2021 Florida gaming compact. As a result, the Florida sports betting market will restart, and the Seminole Tribe will offer expanded gaming options at their casinos.
According to a press release from the Seminole Tribe of Florida, sports betting, craps and roulette will be available on Dec. 7.
To commemorate the occasion, the tribe plans to have “star-studded celebrations” at its six casinos. They are calling it “A New Era in Florida Gaming.”
South Florida gets the first taste of sports betting
First, the tribe is rolling out its new options at its three South Florida properties. Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood, Seminole Classic Casino Hollywood and Seminole Casino Coconut Creek will have the new offerings on Dec. 7.
All three Seminole-owned casinos are in the Fort Lauderdale area.
Then, Seminole Hard Rock Tampa will launch them on Dec. 8. Lastly, Seminole Casino Immokalee and Seminole Brighton Casino will have them available on Dec. 11.
The Immokalee property is near Naples, and Brighton is on the northwest side of Lake Okeechobee.
No mention of an online sportsbook
One key component not addressed in the press release was the relaunch of the Seminole’s online sportsbook.
Online betting was the focal point of Florida’s previous short-lived sports betting market.
The compact gave the tribe exclusivity over the state’s online betting market. In the brick-and-mortar space, pari-mutuels could operate retail sportsbooks as a contracted vendor of the tribe.
A few months after the federal government passed the compact, the tribe launched online betting through its Hard Rock Sportsbook Florida app in November 2021. It never launched a brick-and-mortar facility.
However, the ownership group of two pari-mutuels, West Flagler Associates, filed suit against the state and the tribe. Nonetheless, the tribe started accepting wagers before the case was settled.
After three weeks of betting, a federal judge ruled the compact violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Thus, the tribe ceased its operations.
This time around, it appears the relaunch will be focused on the retail side of the business. Since the online sportsbook isn’t mentioned, it’s more likely that aspect will come later.
Restart comes after two-year legal battle
U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich invalidated the compact in November 2021. But the Seminoles and the federal government appealed the ruling to the D.C. Court of Appeals.
West Flagler, the federal government and the Seminole Tribe spent most of 2022 litigating the case through filings with the court. The litigation culminated with oral arguments last December.
Six months later, the three-judge panel unanimously overturned Friedrich’s district court ruling. Therefore, the compact was officially reinstated. It was only a matter of time before the tribe could start offering sports betting again.
West Flagler filed for a rehearing with the D.C. Court of Appeals. But the court denied the request.
Then, they filed for the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case. Additionally, they filed a stay request, which would keep the tribe from resuming sports betting operations before the court could hear the case.
The U.S. Supreme Court could hear the case at a later date. But Chief Justice John Roberts denied the stay request. The decision allows the tribe to resume operations of the three new options.
“The Seminole Tribe thanks the State of Florida, the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Justice for defending our compact,” said Chairman of the Seminole Tribe Marcellus Osceola Jr. “By working together, the Tribe, the state and the federal government achieved a historic legal victory.”
Seminole Gaming CEO Jim Allen said the new offerings will add more jobs to the local economies.
“With the expansion of the new scope, we are creating over 1,000 new jobs made possible by the compact,” said Allen. “This is a historic milestone that immediately puts Florida in the same league with the world’s great gaming destinations.”