West Flagler Seeking Injunction on Hard Rock Online Sports Betting in Florida

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The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. The 638-room Guitar Hotel, shaped like an electric guitar, a soaring, blue-glass, and a 36-story. Zak BENNETT / AFP

The Seminole Tribe, owners of the Hard Rock casinos and mobile sports betting app, have green-lighted online sports betting again in the Sunshine State despite the murky legal waters surrounding Florida sports betting, and their nemesis West Flagler wants it stopped.

It’s Complicated

If you enjoy learning about the inner workings of the legal system then this case is for you. West Flagler Associates is a parimutuel company in Florida that would desperately like a piece of the online sports betting industry in its home state.

However, a compact was crafted between Governor Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Indian Tribe that allowed the Seminoles and their Hard Rock brand to obtain what amounted to a monopoly on sports betting in the Sunshine State in exchange for billions of dollars to the state.

In November 2021, the Seminoles launched their Hard Rock betting app to the public but that was immediately met with legal action by West Flagler, claiming only the servers where the wagers were received were on tribal grounds but the bets themselves were originating all over the state.

A court agreed with West Flagler and within about 30 days, the Seminoles turned the switch off their mobile app per the ruling. Since that time the two parties have gone back and forth in the courts with Governor Ron DeSantis and the Department of the Interior named as defendants.

Seminoles Decide to Relaunch

A recent legal ruling that overturned the initial finding against the team of DeSantis and the Seminoles was embraced by the defendants and shortly thereafter the Seminole Tribe announced that retail sports betting would be opened at their six locations with the following schedule:

December 7, 2023

  • Seminole Casino Coconut Creek
  • Seminole Classic Casino Hollywood
  • Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood

December 8, 2023

  • Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa

December 11, 2023

  • Seminole Casino Brighton
  • Seminole Casino Immokalee

“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. By working together, the Tribe, the State, and the federal government achieved a historic legal victory,” said Marcellus Osceola Jr., Chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Governor Ron DeSantis said, “The Seminole Tribe of Florida’s new initiative will create jobs, increase tourism, and provide billions in added revenue for our state. I was proud to work with the Tribe on our historic Gaming Compact and I look forward to its full implementation.”

However, that may have been just a smokescreen for the bigger prize, online sports betting. Much to the surprise of just about everyone, the Hard Rock sports betting app was relaunched on November 7th to existing users only and not to the general public, unlike the last time.

As you can imagine, this caused a reflexive response by West Flagler to use every legal remedy at its disposal to shut mobile betting down yet again.

West Flagler’s attorney filed a motion that stated, “This exigency has been created by the launch of the Seminole Tribe’s mobile sports betting application on November 7, 2023, without prior warning.” They went on to say the filing had not previously been submitted in order “to avoid burdening the court” and because there was no “concrete proof” that the tribe would launch the Hard Rock Bet platform.

But launch they did and West Flagler deemed this as a “carefully crafted” distraction and implied that the tribe “sought to surprise petitioners and this court by presenting a ‘fait accompli’ on November 7.”

In other words, it was a dirty trick and they want the courts to not only know about it but do something about it. A motion has been filed at the federal and state levels and we shall soon learn if mobile betting in Florida will continue or if it will be shuttered yet again.

*Bookmakers Review will continue to monitor this story and update our readers as events unfold.