Florida sports betting is scheduled to resume on Dec. 7 at three retail Seminole Casinos. Southern Sunshine State gamblers are slated to be joined by wagerers at the remaining three Seminole Tribe of Florida-managed casinos by Dec. 11. The tribe hasn’t announced when or if Hard Rock Bet will be relaunching online sports betting.
Yet the tribe’s retail casino sportsbook announcement today sounded optimistic:
Craps, roulette, and sports betting will launch to the public.
The statement didn’t mention that its 2-year-long legal battle over sports betting may not be finished.
It’s still possible that a lawsuit against the Seminole Tribe of Florida may be one of the 100 to 150 cases a year the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) will decide to review.
That’s if plaintiff West Flagler Associates, which owns two gaming facilities in Miami, files such a request by Dec. 11.
Florida Sports Betting Will Be Big Business
Today, the tribe thanked SCOTUS because the court “rejected an attempt to block implementation of the Compact.”
In 2021, the tribe signed a gaming compact with the state that gave the Seminole Tribe of Florida a monopoly over retail and online sports betting. In a state like Florida, where 77% of its 22 million residents are 21 and older, that’s hundreds of millions in revenue for online gambling alone.
Meanwhile, even without retail sportsbooks, Florida’s 15 casinos generated $3.25 billion in gross gaming revenue (GGR), according to the American Gaming Association (AGA). That’s $694 million in GGR from eight commercial casinos during 2022, and $2.56 billion in GGR from seven tribal casinos in 2016, read the latest data from the gambling trade association.
On Oct. 28, 2021, three months after the US Interior Department (DOI) allowed the gaming compact to proceed, the Seminole Tribe of Florida provided a revenue estimate.
The estimate said:
The new Gaming Compact guarantees a minimum of $2.5 billion in revenue sharing for Florida over the first five years. The state received its first monthly revenue-sharing contribution from the Seminole Tribe in October, when a $37 million payment was transmitted.
The Hard Rock app accepted statewide sports bets for a few weeks. However, the West Flagler vs. DOI case, then before the US District Court for the District of Columbia, shut the site down.
The Hard Rock Bet School of Hard Knocks
Part of the reason for Hard Rock Bet’s exclusion from today’s sports betting announcement may be that the Oct. 25 statement by SCOTUS raises more questions about Florida sports betting than it answers.
Specifically, it’s unclear whether Justice Brett Kavanaugh was saying the tribe could only operate Hard Rock Bet on tribal lands if it complied with the gaming compact per the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).
Or if Florida law relating to the gaming compact allowed statewide sportsbook app operations — which would mean “the state law raises serious equal protection issues.”
West Flagler contended that voters must decide whether to permit Florida sports betting. They’re the ones who need to amend the state constitution, the gaming operator said.
Meanwhile, the Seminole Tribe of Florida will literally let residents roll the dice, beginning on Dec. 7.