The ongoing saga of legal sports betting in Florida continues as West Flagler Associates has requested a rehearing from the U.S. Court of Appeals – D.C. Circuit regarding the lawfulness of the Seminole Tribe’s gaming compact with the state.
West Flagler is the parent company of Magic City Casino and Bonita Springs Poker Room, who feel they deserve a piece of the FL sports betting pie.
The legal issue at hand is whether or not mobile sports betting can be considered betting on Seminole lands, where all gambling is required to take place per the gaming compact.
The Seminole Tribe of Florida believes that their mobile sports betting apps fall within the guidelines set forth in the compact because, technically, all bets are being placed on servers located on their property.
The challenge was overturned on June 30th, but neither of the Seminole Hard Rock Sportsbook locations in Tampa or Miami nor the mobile app have reopened. This is because attorneys for the Hard Rock anticipated an appeal or further legal hurdles.
A rehearing would involve the judicial panel expanding from three to include most of the active judges and would need to be granted by that same body. The rehearing request is expected to be denied.
Legal Challenges Expected To Continue
Ultimately, the case will likely wind up in front of the US Supreme Court to determine whether the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act qualifies mobile sports betting as gambling on tribal lands.
Should the Supreme Court of the United States uphold Florida’s gaming compact, it will set a precedent that could alter the course of sports betting in each state in the USA.
Any US state with gaming compacts in place with Native American tribes could then entertain the idea of offering sportsbook apps as long as the servers are based on their property.
In New Mexico, sports betting is only offered at in-person tribal casinos. Using Florida’s roadmap, tribes in NM could seek to modify their existing compact to permit mobile sports betting as long as the servers are based inside of their lands.
When Will Sports Betting Return To FL
Brick-and-mortar sports betting is in the clear and can open for business at Seminole Hard Rock Casinos in FL at any time. Initial projections were hopeful for a debut prior to the onset of the 2023-24 NFL season, but no official announcement has been made.
The return of sports betting apps in FL will have to wait until all legal challenges are settled, which could take several months if it reaches the SCOTUS.
When apps return, they’ll be under a new moniker as the Seminoles have recently rebranded the Hard Rock Sportsbook App to Hard Rock Bet.