The Seminole Tribe’s Hard Rock Bet online sportsbook is now available to all Floridians.
Hard Rock Bet was open to a limited group of Florida sports betting customers since its return on Nov. 7. However, the betting app wasn’t available statewide until Tuesday.
Many speculated that the full launch would come on Thursday. An announcement coinciding with the Dec. 7 launch of craps, roulette and retail sports betting seemed to make sense.
However, the tribe surprised customers by beginning to accept wagers across the state on Tuesday.
Hard Rock Bet completes soft launch in Florida
Those who created an account while it was briefly available in November 2021 could bet during the soft launch. Bettors with a rewards card from the tribe’s brick-and-mortar casinos also had access. There was a waitlist for new customers.
The waitlist ended on Tuesday afternoon. Hard Rock Bet began advertising itself as open to anyone over the age of 21 in Florida.
The site also offered a ‘No Regret First Bet’ worth up to $100 for new bettors. Customers can bet $10 or more on any sport. If their bet wins, they will be paid out in cash. If the bet loses, they will be given a bonus bet refund up to a maximum of $100.
The site also mentions that Florida sports betting is legal. There were tips for bettors of all experience levels, deposit and withdrawal information and responsible gambling resources.
The official retail sports betting launch across three Florida casinos, including Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, is all set for its big launch party on Thursday. Celebrities are expected to be at the casino locations Thursday, including Dwayne Wade, DJ Khaled and Mike Tyson at the Hollywood casino’s sportsbook.
Statewide access is good news for Seminoles in legal battle
The move to fully launch the Hard Rock Bet online sportsbooks is a good sign for the legal battle that Florida sports betting is involved in. However, the possibility remains that the app could be shuttered again.
The ownership group of a Florida pari-mutuel facility launched a legal battle to take the platform down. West Flagler Associates has led the charge against the tribe’s monopoly over the Florida sports betting market for the last two years.
West Flagler sued the federal government for approving the 2021 Florida gaming compact, expanding the state’s gaming industry. They argued the agreement violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and the Florida Constitution.
A U.S. District Court judge agreed with West Flagler in 2021 and forced the tribe to close its online sportsbook. But the federal government appealed the rulilng and the DC Court of Appeals overturned the district court ruling last summer.
The US Supreme Court recently denied the group’s attempt to block the state’s 2021 gaming compact from going into effect and effectively keep the Hard Rock Bet app offline.
Meanwhile, the Seminole tribe says it is in compliance with the law because the Hard Rock Bet computer servers that process the wagers are located on tribal land.
West Flagler won’t give up
West Flagler has a suit that remains active in the Florida Supreme Court. The group says it is ready to bring the case back to the US Supreme Court in February 2024. However, moving forward with a full launch indicates a belief that there is a good chance the courts will rule in favor of the tribe.
In addition to allowing the Seminoles to add sports betting, craps and roulette at their casinos, the new compact also allows the Seminoles to add three casinos on tribal property in Broward County. In exchange, the tribe will make revenue-sharing payments to the state.
Estimates have the tribe paying the state at least $2.5 billion over the first five years and possibly billions more throughout the 30-year agreement.