- Legal States
Erik Gibbs December 6, 2021 3 min read
Seminole Sports Betting App Goes Dark as Tribe Fights the Government
The Seminole Tribe of Florida on Saturday ended digital sports betting via its Hard Rock Digital platform. This was less than 24 hours after an appellate court denied the tribe’s appeal for a stay. After the Seminoles launched their sportsbook app in November, this was the third consecutive time that a federal court ruled against them.
Seminole Tribe Loses Ground in Florida
According to the court’s briefings, the Seminoles’ suspension would result in a $40 million loss in revenue share per month. The suspension is a significant stumbling block in the plans of the Seminoles, but it’s just a temporary setback. The app announced that any bets placed on games that started after 11 AM ET Saturday would be voided.
Seminole spokesperson Gary Bitner said in a statement, “As a result of yesterday’s Appeals Court decision denying a temporary stay of the District Court’s decision on the 2021 Compact, Hard Rock Sportsbook will temporarily suspend operations of its mobile app in Florida. Account balances for all current players will be refunded as requested.”
A US District Court judge declared the compact between Florida and the tribe illegal on November 22 and demanded its cancelation. In the case of West Flagler Associates, Bonita Fort Myers Associates, and US Department of the Interior secretary Deb Haaland, Judge Dabney Friedrich of the US District Court for the District of Columbia ruled the Seminoles must revert back to their 2010 compact with the State. This allows brick-and-mortar retail betting, but not mobile sports betting.
Compact’s Future in Jeopardy
Dabney stated that the compact is in violation of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which allows for wagering on tribal lands. If a Seminole server is involved, any bet placed in Florida is deemed to be on Indian lands. Friedrich ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and denied Seminoles an appeal. The tribe appealed to the US Court of Appeals, District of Columbia. The court denied the request of the tribe for a stay with a vote of 2-1.
As the case progresses through the appellate court, the tribe will continue to fight to keep legal wagering legal. Oral arguments have not been scheduled.
Bitner added that, despite the latest decision, the tribe “looks forward to working with the State of Florida and the U.S. Department of Justice to aggressively defend the validity of the 2021 Compact before the Appeals Court, which has yet to rule on the merits of the 2021 Compact. The Seminole Tribe of Florida, the State of Florida, and the United States have all taken the position that the 2021 Compact is legal.”