Hard Rock betting app’s return increasingly likely following Court of Appeals decision

by | Sep 12, 2023



  • The U.S. Court of Appeals rejected a request to reconsider an ongoing legal challenge attempting to halt online sports betting in Florida.
  • The case was brought by West Flagler Associates to block a state compact between Florida and the Seminole Tribe, which would have allowed online sports betting on tribal lands.
  • The status of online sports betting in Florida remains uncertain, with the possibility of resuming operations around September 19, 2023, pending further legal actions.

The U.S. Court of Appeals on Monday rebuffed a request to reassess the ongoing legal challenge that sought to halt online sports betting in Florida.

The case, brought forward by West Flagler Associates, aimed to impede a state compact between Florida and the Seminole Tribe, which would have permitted online sports betting on tribal lands.

Earlier this year, an appeals court panel ruled in favor of the U.S. Department of the Interior, affirming the federal government’s adherence to regulations in approving the compact. West Flagler Associates now faces a choice between petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court or pursuing action through the state courts.

“Upon consideration of appellees’ petition for rehearing en banc, the response thereto, and the absence of a request by any member of the court for a vote, it is ordered that the petition be denied,” reads Monday’s filing.

Presently, the status of online sports betting in Florida remains uncertain, with the possibility of resuming operations as early as September 19, 2023, contingent on further legal actions.

In June, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, granting them the right to offer legal digital sports betting in the state.

The ruling marked a reversal of the previous District Court decision, which nullified the Gaming Compact between the state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe. The prior decision argued that the compact contravened federal law and stated that the inclusion of a Seminole Tribe betting app, enabling bets to be placed from any location within the state, violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).

The compact was formed under a ‘hub-and-spoke’ system that allowed sports bets to be placed from anywhere in the state as long as the bet is processed on servers housed on Seminole land.

“[The] IGRA does not prohibit a gaming compact—which is, at bottom, an agreement between a tribe and a state—from discussing other topics, including those governing activities “outside Indian lands,” wrote Judge Robert Wilkins.”In fact, IGRA expressly contemplates that a compact “may” do so where the activity is “directly related to” gaming.”

Following ratification of the Gaming Compact, the Florida Seminole Tribe launched its Hard Rock Sportsbook app, allowing bettors to wager on game lines, spreads, futures, player props, and more. However, the platform was forced to shutter after the compact was struck down, though early reactions following Monday’s decision indicate that it will be re-launched in the coming weeks.

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