Will Florida Sports Betting Market Expand Beyond Hard Rock Bet?

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Florida sports betting

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ — Hard Rock CEO Jim Allen left open the possibility that other commercial operators eventually could join the Florida sports betting market in an interview last week at the East Coast Gaming Congress

The Seminole Tribe of Florida essentially has a monopoly on Florida sports betting via a 2021 gaming compact that was negotiated with Gov. Ron DeSantis

Florida sports betting relaunched on Nov. 7 to existing customers via the Hard Rock Bet app. However, West Flagler Associates is attempting to challenge the Seminole compact with the US Supreme Court

Allen open to market expansion talks

Allen addressed the possibility of market expansion with LSR on Thursday at ECGC. However, any type of revenue share framework is “premature,” Allen said.

“I don’t think we’ve ever stated that we wouldn’t work with some of the other companies, whether it be Caesars, BetMGM, DraftKings or FanDuel. We’ve always stated that we’d be receptive to that conversation,” Allen told LSR.

“I think it would be premature to figure out the mechanics of that until we know where we end up in the legal process. But there is no limitation on a conversation of skins or whatever it may be. I think it would be one step at a time.

“Certainly in the early days, they were obviously spending significant amounts of money to block any potential move in Florida. I’m not going to say those days are behind us. But I think now there’s a much better relationship from a communication standpoint.” 

Revenue share framework for pari-mutuels

Following the sports betting relaunch in late 2023, Allen told the Naples News that Hard Rock was actively working with 16 of the state’s 32 pari-mutuel operators. 

Under the pari-mutuel marketing partnerships, via the 2021 Seminole Compact, partners received 60% of the profits they brought to the Hard Rock Bet app, with the tribe keeping the remaining 40%. 

Florida sports betting case significant

Allen said it has been important to have informative conversations with the American Gaming Association about the potential industry ramifications of the case.

The tribe is able to offer legal online sports betting via a model where bets are placed through cellphones and computers via servers on tribal land.

“Frankly, this case, if we lose — and we may, right? We’re not arrogant to think this is a slam dunk. But the language is virtually identical to the state of New Jersey. And the servers have to be in an Atlantic City casino. They have to be geographically placed. We took the exact same language,” Allen said. “So if it’s illegal … then I think the industry has got a big problem. … But I’m sure every one of the companies would love to be in Florida, and we respect that.” 

Florida sports betting volume ‘good’

After being able to offer Super Bowl betting and March Madness betting, Allen was asked how Florida has performed relative to Hard Rock’s expectations. 

“I would say that we’re very cautious on the scope. Because obviously there’s two pending Supreme Court cases, one with the United States, one with the state of Florida. So far those rulings have been allowing us to continue to move forward. So I think that’s No. 1. It’s very important to be respectful to the judicial process,” Allen said. 

“As far as volumes, volumes are good. And literally Tom (Reeg) and I have talked about this so much. Saturating the airwaves with advertising is not good for our industry. We’ve not been overly aggressive at marketing. And we’re candidly taking one step at a time to see how the legal process settles, in whatever direction it may.”