On December 5th, 2023, the Seminole Tribe’s mobile sportsbook opened up to all betters in Florida, allowing them to place their wagers from the comfort of their phones. This move precedes the imminent launch of in-person sports betting, as well as the introduction of additional games at the tribe’s casinos later in the week.
The decision to open up the sportsbook to the broader Florida population is rooted in the Seminole Tribe’s optimism that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis will ultimately succeed in defending the gaming compact that he and the tribe negotiated in 2021. Despite ongoing legal battles, the tribe has secured several key court victories throughout the summer and fall, prompting the reopening of its Hard Rock Bet sportsbook to a limited customer base just last month.
Chairman Jim Allen expressed the tribe’s respect for the legal process, stating, “I think we are always respectful to the legal process. So until a court makes a decision in a different direction, we move forward,” in an interview with the South Florida Sun Sentinel newspaper.
While legal challenges persist, West Flagler Associates, a pari-mutuel operator, has been at the forefront of the legal fight against the tribe’s sports betting monopoly for the past two years. However, their options are dwindling as both the U.S. Supreme Court and the Florida Supreme Court have thus far declined to intervene.
The gaming compact negotiated between Governor DeSantis and tribal leaders in 2021 is expected to generate $2.5 billion for the state within its first five years. Beyond authorizing the mobile sportsbook, the compact also permits the tribe to offer roulette and craps at its six brick-and-mortar casinos in Florida, with the introduction of these games set to begin on Thursday.
In light of these developments, sports betting is now open to any Floridian over the age of 21, marking a significant expansion in the state’s gambling offerings.