Florida Sports Betting Could Return as Federal Court Overturns Block On Hard Rock Sportsbook

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Written By Giovanni Shorter | Last Updated
Florida Sports Betting

Florida residents could potentially see the return of Hard Rock Sportsbook in the Sunshine State. The D.C. Circuit Court has ruled to overturn the initial block on the Florida sports betting compact. This opens the door for the Seminole Tribe to bring back online sports betting in Florida barring a potential appeal. The Seminole Tribe has exclusive rights to sports betting in FL and owns Hard Rock Sportsbook.

Big Win For Florida Sports Betting And Seminole Tribe

This ruling does not automatically mean that the Hard Rock sportsbook can go live. However, it is thus far a good sign of a potential return. The Circuit Court disagreed with the District Court’s initial ruling, opening the door for betting to return in Florida.

“Thus, to be sure, an IGRA (Indian Gaming Regulatory Act) gaming compact can legally authorize a tribe to conduct gaming only on its own lands,” wrote the court. “But at the same time, IGRA does not prohibit a gaming compact—which is, at bottom, an agreement between a tribe and a state—from discussing other topics, including those governing activities outside Indian lands.”

There is still the possibility of an appeal from the opposition, West Flagler Associates. This long-standing issue is far from being settled. Florida residents can still hold out hope, as this turn of events brings the possibility of the local betting market to the forefront yet again.

Florida Sports Betting Saga Explained

This ruling by the court is a continuation of the long sports betting saga in Florida. The Seminole Tribe of Florida signed a compact with Gov. Ron DeSantis to claim exclusivity on sports betting in the state. The compact was passed into law after DOI Secretary Deb Haaland let it be deemed approved after 45 days.

Sportsbooks went live in November 2021 and accepted odds for 34 days. Multiple lawsuits were filed against the compact due to the Seminoles hosting online sports betting statewide. The lawsuits were successful with the Hard Rock being app forced to stop operations. Florida became the first and only market to launch sports betting and cease opperations.

The compact was ruled illegal by Judge Dabney Friedrich at the District Court in the West Flagler Associates vs. Haaland trial. This is what Judge Friedrich wrote in her opinion: “Altogether, over a dozen provisions in IGRA regulate gaming on ‘Indian lands,’ and none regulate gaming in another location. It is equally clear that the (Interior Department) secretary must reject compacts that violate IGRA’s terms.”

The tables seemed to have turned in the Seminoles’ favor. Could sports betting make a comeback in the Sunshine State? Time will tell.