Seminole Tribe Launches Florida Sports Betting App Under the Radar

Even though online sports betting in Florida is undergoing several legal challenges, the Seminole Tribe of Florida decided to quietly launch a sportsbook on Monday. The activity was approved by state legislators in May, but the new regulations concerning betting on sports face a lot of lawsuits by parties who claimed that the whole process is illegal.

The highly anticipated sports betting rollout in Florida didn’t have a big parade or bring in superstars to make its launch known, and the tribe hasn’t made any public comments about the inauguration. Until recently, even though there were a lot of rumors, Florida still didn’t have an exact date of when sports betting would be launched.

Hard Rock Sportsbook Was Available for Download

On Monday afternoon, social media exploded after the Seminoles’ Hard Rock Sportsbook was available to download. Players were also allowed to deposit and wager on various sports, including soccer, football, hockey and more.

The door to Florida online sports betting was opened this spring by Governor Ron DeSantis. It was made via a deal that was signed with Marcelus Osceola Jr., the tribe’s chairman. In a special session that was held in May, the state legislation signed off on the new betting agreement, but since then, it has been challenged in federal court. Florida is viewed by many as a state that has the biggest potential to make a large profit from online betting, but the continued legal hurdles have been causing significant delays.

Thanks to the so-called hub-and-spoke plan on sports betting, gamblers in Florida will be able to wager on various sports online and the bets will run through servers on tribal properties. According to the compact, bets that are placed on mobile apps or other electronic devices will be conducted by the tribe, regardless of where the bettor is located in Florida.

With the benefits that the tribe will receive from the compact, it is expected to provide billions of dollars to Florida over the life of the agreement. Some of these benefits include the already-mentioned online sports betting, as well as being able to provide gamblers with roulette and craps games at its casinos.

The Tribe Locked In Several Partnerships

One of the conditions in the sports betting deal state that the tribe must partner with pari-mutuel facilities which will receive 60% of the profits from marketing. On Thursday, the tribe announced that it teamed up with Hialeah Park Casino, Tampa Bay Downs, Ocala Gainesville Poker, Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. and Palm Beach Kennel Club, as well as Tampa’s TGT Poker & Racebook to offer online sports betting services.

According to the terms, the tribe will have to pay a minimum of $2.5 billion to the state of Florida in the first five years of the agreement, which is set to last 30 years. On Thursday, the tribe announced that the first October payment, which totaled $37 million, was received by the state.

DeSantis has stated that, apart from gaining $2.5 billion, the new compact brings the Florida pari-mutuel business together in a partnership with the tribe. In doing so, the people will be provided with increased access to transparent and safe sports betting.

The launch of online sports betting in Florida comes just a few days before a federal judge will hear arguments in a case that was filed by owners of pari-mutuel businesses. These owners are challenging some parts of the compact.

Bonita Springs Poker Room in Southwest Florida and the Magic City Casino owners (Miami-Dade County) contend in the lawsuit that the plan on sports betting actually violates federal law and is highly likely to have a devastating impact on the success of their businesses. This lawsuit is filed against Deb Haaland, the U.S. Department of the Interior and Secretary. However, the Department of the Interior oversees issues concerning Indian gambling, and gave the green light on the compact.

In July, the Havenick family, the owners of Magic City Casino and Bonita Springs Poker Room, filed a similar lawsuit in a Tallahassee federal court, but the case was dismissed by a federal judge last month. The Havenick family has owned the aforementioned facilities for more than 50 years.

In the meantime, betting platforms like FanDuel and DraftKings have given $10 million to a political committee that backs the constitutional amendment in the state. If enough signatures are collected and the Supreme Court of Florida approves it, the amendment will go on the November 2022 ballot. If voters agree, online sports betting platforms could be launched by pari-mutuel facilities, professional sports arenas and other approved facilities.

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