The Sunshine State is once again shining with the opportunity for mobile sports betting, although in a restricted capacity. The Seminole Tribe’s Hard Rock Sports Bet app made its triumphant return on Tuesday, rekindling the hopes of existing users in Florida after a two-year hiatus. This comeback follows a rollercoaster ride that began with the app’s initial launch in November 2021, characterized by legal complications and a subsequent halt in wager acceptance due to a U.S. District judge’s ruling.
Tuesday’s announcement is in harmony with the Seminoles’ recent declaration that in-person sports betting will debut at all six of its Florida casinos come December. The relaunch of the app aligns with a significant event in the world of legal proceedings—the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to reject West Flagler Associates’ request to block the compact from taking effect.
The implications of this decision extend beyond the relaunch of the Hard Rock app. Attorney Daniel Wallach highlights the potential course of action by West Flagler, which may involve a request to the Florida Supreme Court to temporarily suspend the mobile sports betting provisions of state law while the legal battle unfolds.
West Flagler Associates are engaged in a lawsuit against the state and Governor Ron DeSantis, contending that the compact violates a Florida constitutional amendment mandating statewide voter approval for gambling expansions. They also assert that it breaches the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) because wagers are not placed on tribal land.
The Florida Supreme Court has yet to announce whether it will entertain the case, but Wallach suggests the outcome may not favor West Flagler. He points out Governor DeSantis’ influence, having appointed five of the seven Florida Supreme Court justices, who have consistently supported him in similar cases.
On a broader scale, Justice Brett Kavanaugh of the U.S. Supreme Court previously raised concerns about the compact’s compatibility with IGRA, particularly if it authorizes gambling beyond tribal lands, posing “serious” constitutional questions.
As Wallach puts it, “The real action is going to be in the U.S. Supreme Court.” The fate of sports betting in Florida hinges on how various courts rule, with the Florida Supreme Court expected to deliver a verdict on the case’s merits in the first quarter of 2024.
While access to betting on the Hard Rock app is currently limited to existing users, the sportsbook is extending an olive branch to newcomers. They can join the waitlist by signing up for Unity by Hard Rock at any Seminole Casino, earning 1+ Unity points, and patiently awaiting an email invitation.