It did not take long for the relaunch of online sports betting in Florida to draw a legal contest.
West Flagler Associates, who is fighting at the state and federal level against this expansion of gambling in Florida, submitted an urgent request Tuesday evening to suspend mobile Florida sports betting through Hard Rock Bet.
Hard Rock and the Seminole Tribe elected to open the platform again Tuesday, but only to existing customers.
Mobile Florida sports betting creates urgency
West Flagler accused the Seminole of creating a distraction with their announcement last week that legal in-person sports betting would launch at multiple casinos beginning Dec. 7.
The Seminoles then moved forward with their “fait accompli,” West Flagler said, suggesting the plan all along was to distract with the in-person announcement while always planning to launch mobile shortly after.
That created the “exigency,” the legal word for needing something urgently, for West Flagler to request an immediate suspension of mobile sports betting.
West Flagler previously asked the court to rule that the tribe is overstepping its legal authority to expand gambling in Florida without a vote approved by the majority of citizens. The Seminole do not have to respond until Dec. 1, though, which likely pushes the court’s ruling into 2024, West Flagler said.
Already denied stay at federal level
The US Supreme Court has not said if it will take on the federal appeal brought by West Flagler, but it decided not to force Hard Rock Bet to sit on the sidelines.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh, however, suggested this could be more of a state issue:
“To the extent that a separate Florida statue (as distinct as the compact) authorizes the Seminole Tribe — and only the Seminole Tribe — to conduct certain off-reservation gaming operations in Florida, the state law raises serious equal protection issues.
“But the state law’s constitutionality is not squarely presented in this application, and the Florida Supreme Court is in any event currently considering state-law issues related to the Tribe’s potential off-reservation gaming operations.”
Hard Rock Bet live only for some
While the Hard Rock Bet app went live again in Florida on Tuesday, it was only for some people.
Customers that did not bet on the app back in 2021 and are not in Hard Rock’s database have to take additional steps:
- Visit one of the Seminole-owned casinos in the state
- Sign up for a loyalty membership
- Play a game at the casino
If a potential bettor already already had a loyalty membership before Nov. 6, they will get access about an hour after signing up and creating their Hard Rock Bet account, the website said.
Anyone that bet on the app in Florida in 2021 should be able to log in and play normally.