Nov 1, 2023 - News

Sports betting is launching soon at Florida casinos

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Sports betting is coming to Florida this winter, in time for the Super Bowl and March Madness.

  • But for now, sports fans will have to place their bets at the casino — not on their phones.

Driving the news: The Seminole Tribe announced today that in-person sports betting will launch Dec. 7 at its three South Florida casinos: Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, Seminole Classic Casino in Hollywood and Seminole Casino Coconut Creek.

  • Sports betting starts at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa on Dec. 8, followed by Dec. 11 rollouts at the tribe's casinos near Naples and Lake Okeechobee.
  • Craps and roulette will also debut at the casinos this winter, as part of a 2021 state gaming compact expanding the tribe's casino offerings.

Catch up fast: The Seminole Tribe has been embroiled in a two-year lawsuit challenging the legality of the gaming compact, which notably granted the tribe exclusive control over sports betting — both in person and online — across Florida.

  • The federal lawsuit filed against the Seminoles by two casino operators argues it's illegal for the tribe to offer online sports betting outside of tribal lands.
  • The plaintiffs are still seeking rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court and the Florida Supreme Court.

What they're saying: Jim Allen, CEO of Seminole Gaming and chairman of Hard Rock International, said in a press release that the in-person gaming expansion will create over 1,000 new jobs in the state.

  • "This is a historic milestone that immediately puts Florida in the same league with the world's great gaming destinations," he said.

The intrigue: Today's announcement doesn't mention anything about online sports betting.

Tribe spokesperson Gary Bitner declined to comment on the report or answer questions from Axios about the tribe's plans to launch the app.

Bob Jarvis, a law professor at Nova Southeastern University, tells Axios that it isn't surprising the tribe would move forward with physical sports betting first because the court battle centers on mobile betting.

  • "There really never was any dispute over the Tribe's right to have in-person sports betting," he wrote in an email. "The Tribe is unlikely to start mobile sports betting until all the pending litigation, in both federal and state court, is over."
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