TAMPA, Fla. - Mobile sports betting is now available again in the Sunshine State, albeit in a limited fashion.
The Seminole Tribe's Hard Rock Sports Bet app relaunched on Tuesday for existing users in Florida for the first time in two years. The Hard Rock app launched in November 2021 amidst some legal wrangling but quickly stopped accepting wagers after a ruling from a U.S. District judge.
Tuesday's announcement comes after the Seminoles announced sports betting will commence in person at all six of its Florida casinos in December.
The move to re-launch the app comes after the U.S. Supreme Court's decision last month when they denied a request by West Flagler Associates to block the compact from going into effect.
"The bigger issue is what West Flagler does in response to this soft launch, and they told the court not once but twice, and I'm talking about the Florida Supreme Court, that they will file what's known as an all writs motion," attorney Daniel Wallach said.
As Wallach explained West Flagler will likely ask the Florida Supreme Court to temporarily suspend the mobile sports betting provisions of state law while the case makes it way through the court.
West Flager Associates are suing the state and Governor Ron DeSantis over the compact arguing that it violates a Florida constitutional amendment requiring statewide voter approval of gambling expansions. They also argue that it violates the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act or IGRA because bets aren't being place on tribal land.
The Florida Supreme Court has yet to say if they plan to take up the case, but Wallach says it may not go well for West Flager.
"I think Governor DeSantis is going to prevail in the case brought against him because he appointed 5 out of the 7 Florida Supreme Court justices, and they've never ruled against him on a similar kind of motion," Wallach said.
As for the case in the U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh previously said in a penned statement that if the compact authorized gambling off tribal lands it would likely violate IGRA and pose "serious" constitutional questions.
"The real action is going to be in the U.S. Supreme Court. The next decision, though, is going to be from the Florida Supreme Court. Look at it in increments. Probably between now and Thanksgiving sports betting is here to stay. Afterward it really does hinge on how different courts rule," Wallach said.
Wallach expects the Florida Supreme Court to rule on the merits in the case possibly sometime in the first quarter of 2024.
Although access to bet on the Hard Rock app is available only to existing users at the moment, the sports book is offering new users the chance to join the waitlist.
To do so, you have to sign up for Unity by Hard Rock at any Seminole Casino, earn 1+ Unity points, and wait for an email.