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Tribe ‘pleased’ with latest sports betting decision

After the gaming compact was signed the tribe launched its mobile sports betting app – now called Hard Rock Bet. (Hard Rock)

The Seminole Tribe’s quest to launch mobile sports betting in Florida entered yet a new phase in September. A federal appeals court Sept. 11 denied a request from West Flagler Associates and Fort Myers Corp. (a corporation doing business as Bonita Springs Poker Room) to reconsider a ruling by a three-judge panel that found the tribe’s historic gaming compact with the state – which gives the tribe control over mobile sports betting – did not violate the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on June 30 had reversed a November 2021 decision by a federal judge that halted the provisions of the 30-year gaming compact, which had been signed just months earlier on April 23, 2021.

The compact’s opponents had challenged the June 30 decision and asked the full appeals court for a rehearing, known as an “en banc” hearing. But the court rejected the request without a detailed explanation.

While the tribe didn’t comment on the potential impact of the appeals court decision, which at least in the short term opens the door for mobile sports betting to move forward, it said it was “pleased” with the denial of a request for a rehearing.

After the gaming compact was signed the tribe launched its mobile sports betting app – now called Hard Rock Bet. But it stopped accepting wagers and deposits soon after the federal judge’s November decision. Even though the tribe notched a victory with the latest court decision, tribal spokesperson Gary Bitner said it isn’t yet commenting on whether it plans to start accepting bets on the app again.

The “hub and spoke” mobile sports-betting plan would allow gamblers anywhere in the state to place bets online, with the wagers running through servers located on tribal land. Opponents said the compact violates IGRA, which requires all betting to take place exclusively on tribal land.

The compact also allows the tribe to offer craps and roulette at its casinos and to add three casinos on tribal land in Broward County. In exchange, the tribe pledged to pay the state a minimum of $2.5 billion over the first five years and possibly billions of dollars more throughout the 30-year pact.

Meanwhile, according to media reports, attorneys for West Flagler Associates and Fort Myers Corp. have asked the Florida Supreme Court to strike down the sports betting portion of the compact. They asked the appellate court to issue a stay on its Sept. 11 decision to deny a rehearing, but that request was denied Sept. 28.

The Seminole Tribe is the parent entity of Hard Rock International and Seminole Gaming.

Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at