Hard Rock Bet Could Relaunch in Florida as Appeals Court Denies Rehearing Hard Rock Bet Could Relaunch in Florida as Appeals Court Denies Rehearing
Key Takeaways
  • Hard Rock Bet might reintroduce mobile sports betting in Florida within a week.
  • The US Court of Appeals has chosen not to rehear en banc the case that delayed sports betting in Florida for two years.
  • The legal battle was initiated by West Flagler Associates and Bonita-Myers against statewide mobile sports betting.
  • Hard Rock’s immediate relaunch plans remain undisclosed, with past tendencies to launch amidst legal disputes.

The last barrier to Florida [sports betting] has been lifted. Hard Rock Bet could relaunch for mobile sports betting in Florida within a week. The US Court of Appeals has decided not to rehear a case that has held up the expansion of sports betting in the state for two years.

This could mark the end of a legal battle brought by West Flagler Associates and Bonita-Myers, owners of tribal gaming properties in Florida, that has blocked the state-wide launch of mobile sports betting in Florida.

However, future legal avenues could further delay Hard Rock Bet’s launch in the state, including filing a request with the Supreme Court.

“The last barrier to Florida [sports betting] has been lifted,” prominent igaming attorney Jeff Ifrah said on Twitter Monday. “The D.C. Circuit today denied to hear further challenges to the Florida Compact.”

In a statement issued to media outlets, the Seminole Tribe said only that it “is pleased with today’s denial of the request for an en banc hearing by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.”

Hard Rock has yet to issue a statement, and its immediate plans to relaunch are unknown. A meme from the @HardRockBet account welcomed the ruling.

The plaintiffs have 90 days to appeal to the Supreme Court, a step it is expected to take. There is no guarantee the court would take the case, and it may not issue a stay while it is considered.

It appears that Hard Rock could launch in the interim. It certainly has a history of launching in the face of pending legal challenges.

Hard Rock Bet Florida: A Decision Two Years in the Making

The case dates back two years when Florida lawmakers authorized mobile sports betting in Florida through a new gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe. It permitted the tribe to operate a “hub-and-spoke” system that allows other gambling establishments to offer mobile sports betting anywhere in the state — not just on tribal lands.

Two Miami gambling establishments, West Flagler and Bonita-Myers, sued the US Department of the Interior, claiming that it should have rejected the compact for violating the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Despite this, the Seminole Tribe launched mobile sports betting through the brand Hard Rock Bet in November 2021.

Three weeks later, it shut down. A district court ruled that the compact did indeed violate the IGRA. The judge rejected the theory that all bets would be deemed to take place on Indian Lands as that is where the gaming servers are located. “This Court cannot accept that fiction,” she wrote.

This decision was appealed, and some eighteen months later a three-judge panel unanimously reversed this decision, ruling that “the compact itself authorizes only the betting that occurs on the tribe’s lands” which “satisfied IGRA.”

“Whether it is otherwise lawful for a patron to place bets from non-tribal land within Florida may be a question for that state’s courts, but it is not the subject of this litigation and not for us to decide.”

Seminole Tribe and Hard Rock Bet in Florida: A Timeline

betmgm sports us
Last verified: May 2024
Special Signup Offer
Get up to $1,500 in Bonus Bets!*
  • Welcome offer activates if your first bet loses
  • Great mobile betting experience
  • Variety of betting markets on offer

*Except NY & NV. Bonus Bets Expire in 7 Days. One New Customer Offer Only. Additional terms apply.

Please play responsibly. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem and wants help, call 1-800 GAMBLER.

With Case Rejected, Will Hard Rock Bet Florida Relaunch?

Two months later, just as Hard Rock was preparing to launch for the NFL season, West Flagler and Bonita-Fort Myers requested a rehearing. It petitioned for a hearing en banc, meaning that all 11 members of the circuit court would rule on the matter. This once again put the Hard Rock Bet launch on ice.

The DOI naturally said such a rehearing was “not warranted”. Today, the court agreed.

“Upon consideration of the appellees’ petition for rehearing en banc,” the appeals court ruled, “it is ordered that the petition be denied.”

What happens next remains to be seen. In theory, this decision comes into effect in a week, and there are no other pending legal challenges. There seems to be nothing to stop Hard Rock Bet from being clear to relaunch its real money sportsbook across Florida state-wide next week.

In practice, it may need more time to get ready. While it was preparing back in August for launch for the NFL season, it may need more than a week to get ready.

It may also be hesitant to launch with remaining legal options still available. There remain legal avenues at the state level, and plaintiffs are expected to petition the Supreme Court and request a stay. If granted, Hard Rock would have to cease operations again.

However, this process is expected to take months. Hard Rock Bet has a history of launching whenever legally feasible — it did so for just a month in 2021. It could offer legal sports betting for much of the 2023 NFL season before there is further legal clarity.

Hard Rock currently operates sports betting apps in Arizona, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and New Jersey, the latter of which it also operates an online casino.