Florida’s Sportsbook Is Hard Rock Bet and Only Hard Rock Bet, With SCOTUS Dismissal

Hard Rock Bet is still legal in Florida because, on June 17, the highest US court declined to hear the appeal in a lawsuit brought by the competition to “Florida’s Sportsbook.”

So Hard Rock Bet remains the only game in town for the 23 million-resident state.

Meanwhile, online casinos and poker are illegal in Florida. So, requesting legal iGaming in the state is a possible next step for the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which owns Hard Rock Bet. The tribe offers that type of legal online gambling in other states, such as Hard Rock Bet Online Casino in New Jersey.

Florida’s Sportsbook is likely to stay that way because of the Supreme Court’s decision to allow the DC Circuit’s ruling to stand in West Flagler vs. Haaland.

West Flagler Associates, a Florida retail casino operator, sued US Interior Secretary Deb Haaland for allowing a state gaming compact to be approved in 2021. The compact granted the Seminole Tribe of Florida a sports betting monopoly.

Hard Rock Bet Is Florida’s Sportsbook

The Hard Rock Bet monopoly started to yield revenue for the tribe in 2023. (Courts stopped the sportsbook launch for a couple of years while considering the legality of the gaming compact.)

For the Floridians complaining on X about the quality of the Hard Rock Bet app vs. FanDuel Sportsbook or competing apps they’ve used in other states, there’s a remote possibility they can make a change.

Florida-based gaming attorney Daniel Wallach posted on X on July 17:

While commercial operators could still potentially enter the FL market via a ballot initiative, the odds of that ever succeeding are tempered by:

1) 60% approval threshold

2) Well-funded opposition

3) Compact “poison pill” that would allow the Tribe to suspend rev share pymts

Wallach also believes California tribes may pursue legal online sports betting in light of the Hard Rock Bet case outcome.

Nerd Out on SCOTUS Language

No one seems to use the relationship status of “it’s complicated” anymore. However, that’s precisely how Florida’s gaming compact should be listed.

States generally govern laws about online casinos, poker rooms, and sports betting. Some states have hybrid marketplaces in which gaming compacts mesh with state-run and commercial brands.

In Florida, “the only Tribe in America who never signed a peace treaty” uses its own sports betting brand.

So, the dominant US names — DraftKings (DraftKings 39,48 +4,28%) and FanDuel — aren’t even uttered in the Sunshine State. However, the tribe may decide it wants to add other online gambling operators in the state via a revenue-sharing agreement.

Meanwhile, the monopoly isn’t the only reason Florida’s Sportsbook entered the realm of federal vs. state law vs. tribal sovereignty and more. Legal scholars watched the case closely for reasons beyond legal online gambling precedents.

It looks like June 17 may end that legal road — at least for West Flagler vs. Haaland.

The SCOTUS docket entry reads:

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied. Justice [Brett] Kavanaugh would grant the petition for a writ of certiorari. Justice [Ketanji Brown] Jackson took no part in the consideration or decision of this petition. … HABEAS CORPUS DISMISSED

In October 2023, Kavanaugh suggested SCOTUS wouldn’t accept the writ of certiorari. However, the justice suggested that West Flagler pursue a case about federal equal protection laws and possible violations of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). At this point, that would mean starting over.

As for the mention of Jackson, she joined the court in 2022. That was after West Flagler started its legal action that led to SCOTUS appeals.

About the Author

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is Lead Writer at Bonus, concentrating on online casino coverage. She specializes in breaking news, legislative coverage, and gambling marketing strategy overviews. To reach Heather with a news tip, email [email protected].
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