Seminole Tribe of Florida

The Seminole Tribe of Florida is currently the exclusive casino gambling operator in the state. The Seminole Tribe is one of several federally recognized Native American tribes in Florida, but it is the only one with a Class III tribal-state gaming compact.

Most recently, the tribe and state have tried to renegotiate their compact to allow the Seminoles to offer legal retail sports betting and online sportsbooks in Florida as well as other forms of casino gambling. The fate of the new compact is presently up in the air, however, until a federal appeals court rules on the matter.

Here is an overview of the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s casino operations in the state. Read on for information about the Seminoles’ Florida casinos, discussion of the tribe’s gambling history, and consideration of the potential for Seminole-driven gambling expansion in the future.

Seminole casinos in Florida

The Seminoles opened their first high-stakes bingo hall and casino in the Sunshine State in 1979. After the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) was passed in 1988 to regulate the conduct of gaming on tribal land, the Seminoles began expanding is casino operations, eventually agreeing to a tribal-state compact in 2010.

Today the Seminole Tribe operates six full-service casinos located throughout the state. Adding to its influence, the tribe has acquired the Hard Rock International franchise. Two of the Seminoles’ properties share the Hard Rock brand, while the other four casinos are branded as Seminole properties.

Here is a rundown of all six Seminole Tribe-operated Florida casinos with information about what visitors can expect to find at each.

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood opened its doors for the first time in 2004. The property is located in South Broward County on the east coast of Florida between Fort Lauderdale and Miami. This has become one of the most popular casinos for both residents and tourists visiting Florida.

The Seminole Tribe has not rested on its laurels with the property, though. In 2019, the casino revealed a massive $1.5 billion expansion. The result was more gaming space, additional dining options, and increased nightlife at the casino. The calling card of the property now is the new 450-foot tall, guitar-shaped hotel is already iconic and has been featured in music videos.

Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood features over 3,000 video poker and slot machines. There are nearly 200 table games and a 45-table poker room on almost three acres of gaming space.

The casino also offers the following live dealer table games:

  • Blackjack
  • Blackjack Switch
  • Casino War
  • Criss Cross Poker
  • Double Draw Poker
  • Face Up Pai Gow
  • I Luv Suits Poker
  • Let It Ride
  • Mini-baccarat
  • Mississippi Stud Poker
  • Spanish 21
  • Super 4 Progressive Blackjack
  • Three Card poker
  • Ultimate Texas Hold’em

There are electronic versions of craps and roulette located on the casino floor since live dealer versions of those games aren’t legal at this time.

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa

Originally opened as just a casino in 2003 on the west coast of Florida, Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa integrated a hotel a year later. After further expansions in 2007 and 2012, the casino floor at Seminole Hard Rock Tampa now has 245,000 square feet of gaming space.

The property has multiple gaming areas featuring a wide variety of slot machines and table games in multiple rooms. All told, the casino boasts more than 5,000 slot machines and nearly 180 table games, plus a 46-table poker room.

Between all of the gaming spaces, Seminole Hard Rock Tampa offers the following live dealer games:

  • Asia Poker
  • Blackjack
  • Blazing 7’s Blackjack (side bet)
  • Casino War
  • Criss Cross Poker
  • Double Draw Poker
  • Double Exposure Blackjack
  • Four Card Poker
  • I Luv Suits Poker
  • Let It Ride
  • Mini Baccarat
  • Mississippi Stud Poker
  • One Card Blackjack
  • Pai Gow Poker
  • Pai Gow Tiles
  • Spanish 21
  • Three Card Poker
  • Ultimate Texas Hold’Em

Some of the table games, such as Four Card Poker, Let It Ride, and Mississippi Stud, offer linked progressive jackpot side bets.

The property has more than 10 dining options along with a food court with even more eateries to grab a quick meal. The 1,500-seat Hard Rock Events Center is a major entertainment venue for touring musicians. This Las Vegas-style casino also offers a great pool and spa.

Seminole Casino Coconut Creek

Seminole Casino Coconut Creek is more of a casino for Florida locals than tourists. The property does not offer a hotel, which may be a reason it appeals more to local guests. However, tourists can stay at numerous nearby hotels if they’re looking for a different casino experience than the Hard Rock properties.

The casino first opened with just 900 slot machines in 2000 and has since expanded. Seminole Casino Coconut Creek now offers 2,000 slot machines, a live poker room with 20 tables, and more than 65 live table games. Players will find the following table games at Seminole Casino Coconut Creek:

  • Blackjack
  • Baccarat
  • Casino War
  • Criss Cross Poker
  • Mississippi Stud Poker
  • Pai Gow Poker
  • Three Card Poker
  • Spanish 21
  • Ultimate Texas Hold’Em

There are also five different live blackjack progressive jackpots.

There are special smoke-free areas of the casino, level2 and The Pavilion. The casino offers dining options for all budgets. NYY Steak is the premier fine dining restaurant at Seminole Casino Coconut Creek. The property also has more budget-friendly dining options like 1st Street Deli and Sunset Grill. Depending on the evening, guests can also enjoy live entertainment at Sunset Grill, Legends Lounge and Nectar.

Seminole Classic Casino Hollywood

Seminole Classic Casino is a relatively modest property compared with its sister casinos. When it opened in 1979, it was the country’s first large-stakes bingo hall. Today, Seminole Classic Casino has a 73,500-square-foot casino with about 1,000 slot machines, live table games, modest dining options and a couple of bars.

Seminole Classic Casino focuses its space on the more popular live dealer table games:

  • Blackjack
  • Casino War
  • Criss Cross Poker
  • Double Draw Poker
  • Mini Baccarat
  • Mississippi Stud Poker
  • Spanish 21
  • Three Card Poker
  • Ultimate Texas Hold’Em

Located in Hollywood and not far from Seminole Hard Rock, Seminole Classic Casino offers a less glitzy experience for local Floridians. Fort Lauderdale residents tend to make this their casino option for that reason.

Seminole Casino Hotel Immokalee

Settled in the southwest part of Florida near Fort Myers, Seminole Casino Hotel Immokalee features a casino floor with over 1,400 slot machines and 38 live table games.

The upscale hotel has 19 suites and 81 deluxe rooms. Guests can gamble on the casino floor, relax by the pool, grab a bite in one of the restaurants and party at the lounge. Seminole Casino Hotel Immokalee offers a 360-degree experience for those looking for a little rest and relaxation.

The casino has a great variety of table games for a property of its size:

  • Blackjack
  • Blackjack Switch
  • Double Deck Pitch Blackjack
  • Face Up Pai Gow
  • Let It Ride
  • Midi Baccarat
  • Mini Baccarat
  • Mississippi Stud Poker
  • Pai Gow Poker
  • Spanish 21
  • Three Card Poker
  • Ultimate Texas Hold’Em

The casino offers Roll To Win Craps and Electronic Roulette since the traditional live dealer versions of these table games aren’t allowed in Florida at this time.

The property has three restaurants to choose from as well as many bars and lounges. Guests can visit the Seminole Center for larger concert events with national touring performers.

Seminole Casino Brighton

Seminole Casino Brighton is a 27,000-square-foot casino. It’s quite small compared with the other casinos operated by the Seminole Tribe. The Brighton property offers 400 slot machines, high-stakes bingo, live dealer blackjack, and Three Card Poker.

The casino does not have an attached hotel and only has one place to grab a meal, Josiah Restaurant. There are a number of hotels and even an RV Park for those looking to spend the night. Bus rides are available to and from a variety of towns.

Will the Seminole Tribe offer legal sports betting in Florida?

Perhaps one day, and perhaps sooner than later. For now, though, sports betting is not currently legal in Florida, although that’s not due to a lack of trying.

In April 2021, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a renegotiated compact with the Seminole Tribe that was ratified by Florida lawmakers and sent along to the US Department of the Interior (DOI). The 30-year agreement would allow for the tribe to set up retail sportsbooks on tribal land and to partner with off-reservation pari-mutuels that could leverage the Seminole’s platform to introduce statewide mobile betting. The tribe would also be able to offer live dealer craps and roulette games.

The addition of sports betting and other gaming options would create a significant increase in revenue for the tribe. Meanwhile, tax revenue would give the state of Florida $2.5 billion over the first five years.

When the DOI neither accepted nor denied the new compact, it was automatically published in the Federal Register in Aug. 2021. However a legal challenge brought by pari-mutuels owners resulted in a federal judge ruling in Nov. 2021 that the new compact was unlawful, thereby vacating it. That ruling has been appealed, and if it is overturned, the Seminoles will be able to offer sports betting. If the ruling is upheld, they won’t, although the tribe will no doubt try again to find a way to do so in the future.

Will the Seminole Tribe offer online casino gaming?

Probably not, or at least not any time soon. That new gaming compact does not allow the Seminoles to offer online casinos in Florida. Although it was part of the initial agreement, online casino gambling was removed shortly before lawmakers ratified the compact.

The original, revised compact had included a provision that would have allowed the tribe to consider adding online casinos at a later date. Some lawmakers noted how such a provision could be viewed as a loophole to offer statewide mobile gaming without voter approval, and so that language was entirely removed from the new compact.

Even so, the Seminole Tribe does have a framework in place to offer online casino gaming, should they be allowed to do so. In Dec. 2020, Hard Rock International announced the formation of Hard Rock Digital. This platform would allow the tribe to offer online sports betting and mobile casino gaming anywhere online gambling is legal. While Florida is the home base of the Seminole Tribe, Hard Rock has 250 casinos and hotels in 76 countries around the world.

As noted, even without online casinos the new compact is in a state of uncertainty at present. Regardless of how that situation gets resolved, don’t expect the Seminole Tribe to be offering online casino gaming any time soon.

Hard Rock and the Seminole Tribe

The idea of Hard Rock International started in 1971. The concept for Hard Rock Cafe expanded globally in 1982 when it became an international brand. Later in 2004, the Seminole Tribe partnered with Hard Rock to open two casinos in Florida.

The relationship between the two parties got much closer in 2007 when the Seminole Tribe acquired Hard Rock International, Inc. The $965 million deal to buy the brand from Rank Group of Britain was one of the largest purchases ever by a Native American Indian tribe.

The Seminoles didn’t entirely own the Hard Rock brand until recently. Over the years, the Hard Rock brand name had been sold and leased to outside companies. The Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas opened in 1995 but was not owned or operated by the Seminole Tribe since they hadn’t acquired the Hard Rock brand yet.

That changed in 2020 when Hard Rock International purchased the rights to the name and memorabilia from the Vegas property. The casino no longer exists in Las Vegas, but the brand could return under new ownership by the Seminole Tribe.

Hard Rock International continues to expand around the world. The company celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2021. Most recently, the company started Hard Rock Digital to take advantage of the expansion of legal online casinos and sports betting in the US.

Poker at Seminole casinos

Poker is only available at select Seminole casinos in Florida.

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, home to the World Poker Tour Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, has a 45-table poker room that’s open 24 hours a day. The casino offers various cash games and tournaments and features fixed-limit and no-limit Texas Hold’em, Omaha hi-lo and 7-card stud.

The 46-table poker room at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa, which also hosts WPT events, is likewise open 24 hours every day. The casino offers cash games and tournaments ranging from Texas Hold’em to Seven-Card Stud and Omaha Hi-Lo. Both of the Hard Rock properties have additionally hosted World Series of Poker Circuit events.

Seminole Casino Coconut Creek has a poker room with 23 tables. The 24/7 space offers cash games and tournaments. Poker players can also reserve a semi-private table at level2. This area offers upscale amenities and dedicated food and beverage service. While Seminole Casino Coconut Creek doesn’t host national poker events, there are plenty of tournaments and promotions available to Florida locals.

History of the Seminole Tribe

The Seminole Tribe existed long before becoming a gaming powerhouse. Ancestors of the Seminoles are said to have lived in what is now the southeastern part of the US for at least 12,000 years.

While the population of Florida now exceeds 21 million, only about 3,000 descend from indigenous peoples. Some 2,000 of those are members of the Seminole Tribe.

The Seminole War dominated the 19th century for the tribe. Survivors of the war who remained in the state moved into the south Florida wilderness. The Florida Seminole survivors started to sell goods to generate revenue and survive in the 20th century.

After World War II, the Seminole Tribe demanded a settlement for lost land. The tribe wrote its own constitution and received federal recognition in 1957. Over the next 40 years, the Seminoles have grown into an economic and political force in Florida.

The Seminole Tribe’s relationship with the state of Florida

While the Seminoles and Florida have managed to agree to tribal-state gaming compacts over the years, relationship between the two parties has been far from rosy.

In 1997, the Seminole Tribe started full management of gaming activities at the Hollywood Reservation. Two years later, the tribe broke ground on its Coconut Creek and Brighton casinos. This was followed up with a 2001 groundbreaking for Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood. In 2004, Hard Rock Hotel and Casino opened in Tampa, and that same year the Hollywood property held its grand opening. Three years later, the Seminole Tribe purchased the Hard Rock International franchise.

The compact history between Florida and the tribe has had its ups and downs since the first compact went into effect in 2010. A further agreement was reached in 2015, but it was never ratified. A year later, the Seminoles sued the state to retain its exclusive rights to offer Class III gaming in Florida. While an agreement was restored in 2018 along with tribal payments to the state, that all fell apart again soon. In 2019, the Seminole Tribe told Gov. Ron DeSantis it was going to suspend payments unless Florida stopped other gaming facilities from offering games exclusive to the tribe.

It took another two years for another renegotiated compact to fall into place, with DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe agreeing on the aforementioned 2021 deal that could bring legal sports betting to Florida. That new compact was vacated by a federal court ruling, however, and its future remains in doubt. If appeals fail, it will be back to square one for the Seminole Tribe and Florida to try to fashion a new agreement.

Meanwhile, the tribe continues to withhold payments to the state until litigation concerning the 2021 compact gets resolved. As a tribe spokesperson explained to PlayFL, the Seminoles are sending all revenue share payments into an escrow account pending a ruling on the appeal.