Anytime a gaming compact is agreed upon that doesn’t feature open competition for licensing and operation, there’s certain to be opposition. Domestic gambling in the United States is big business, and any parties that aren’t included are prepared to spend money to get a piece of the pie.
That scenario is exacerbated when considering highly populated areas. Take Florida as an example. With nearly 23 million residents, the Sunshine State is the third most populated region in the country.
However, when legal sports betting in Florida was approved in April 2021, only one vendor was allowed to accept wagers – The Seminole Tribe of Florida. The Seminoles operate Hard Rock Casinos in FL, and the agreement allowed them to offer sports betting at those locations.
What caused immediate legal issues was the inclusion of online sportsbooks and mobile sports betting apps operated by the Tribe. Opponents argued that any wagers taking place off of reservation lands is illegal according to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
Last month, that argument was settled when the US Supreme Court decided against hearing an appeal, securing a win for the Seminole Tribe.
“The Seminole Tribe thanks the state of Florida, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and the U.S. Department of Justice for defending our compact. By working together, the tribe, the state, and the federal government achieved a historic legal victory…”
Seminole Tribe of Florida Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr.
On Wednesday, the Seminoles announced that in-person sports betting would debut in three Florida casinos on December 7th. There will also be additional retail sportsbook locations set up in the future.
Between November and December 2021, mobile sportsbook apps accepted bets in FL but were shut down when the lawsuit against the gaming compact began. There has been no announcement as to when local players can expect to access the Hard Rock Sportsbook App on their smartphones and tablets.
The compact has provisions for online sportsbooks. Also included is an allowance for the Hard Rock Casinos to begin offering craps and roulette, two games of chance that are highly profitable for the providers.
There is a pending challenge to the compact in the Florida Supreme Court that cites a requirement for all gambling expansion to be placed on the ballot for voters to weigh in on. This language is included in Amendment 3, but the gaming agreement places federal approval above the will of the state’s constituents.
The tribe must not believe the case has much legal standing because they’ve abstained from offering sports betting for two years due to the prior legal proceedings.
Florida’s new gambling status could inspire other legal sports betting states that are run by Native American interests to employ mobile and online sportsbooks.