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BETTING

Florida Hard Rock Launches Sports Betting App & Expanded Gaming Menu

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood Florida
General view showing the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Zak Bennett/AFP

On Thursday, December, 7th, Hard Rock introduced its expanded gaming menu including roulette, craps, and sports betting to each of its six Florida wagering locations. But the game-changer was the launch of its mobile sports betting app, which now allows Floridians to bet from the comfort of their own living rooms.

Digital Sports Betting Relaunched in Florida

The Hard Rock casinos got an early jump on the weekend by bringing in a bountiful mix of celebrities, former athletes, and musical artists from all genres to kick things off in style last Thursday. There was no shortage of household names to celebrate the launch of their retail sportsbooks, craps, and roulette but the most intriguing addition to the menu was mobile sports betting.

Hard Rock Bet executive managing director and president Matt Primeaux tweeted before the festivities, “Got to get the servers warmed up for the massive launch planned Thursday-Monday at Seminole and Hard Rock casinos across Florida.”

Technically, the soft launch occurred about a month ago when mobile betting was offered to existing Hard Rock customers. But to everyone’s surprise, Hard Rock launched its mobile app in the Sunshine State on Tuesday of last week. The online unveiling was expected to coincide with the introduction of their retail sportsbooks and additional casino games on Thursday but they snuck it in two days earlier than anticipated.

“We’re continuing our rollout of the Hard Rock Bet app in Florida and look forward to the official launch of in-person and mobile sports betting on Thursday,” the tribe said in a statement on Monday, three days before the launch.

Legal Wrangling

Few were thinking about the legal underpinnings of this mobile launch on Thursday as Bruno Mars was scheduled to perform at the Hard Rock Live and several other celebs like Mike Tyson, Jon Bon Jovi, and NBA Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade were just a handful of the many stars seen out and about at the six Florida Hard Rock casinos over the weekend.

But this is the second time the Seminole Tribe has launched their sports betting app, with the first occurring in November 2021 and operating for only about a month until a legal challenge by parimutuel company, West Flagler Associates, filed an injunction that was granted by a lower court.

However, the Seminoles have counterpunched through the Gaming Compact they signed in 2021 with the state of Florida. The state and the Department of the Interior have waged a legal battle on behalf of the Seminoles with West Flagler Associates for their right to operate a gaming monopoly in the state that excludes commercial enterprises such as West Flagler from getting a piece of the action.

Yet, the courtroom tussle is not over, although recent rulings have been noticeably in the Seminoles’ favor, as the plaintiffs have taken this all the way to the SCOTUS and Florida’s Supreme Court.

The legal objections filed by West Flagler Associates differ at the federal and state level, but if the case is heard and adjudicated in their favor, then we may soon see mobile sports betting going dark yet again until a permanent solution is reached.

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