While there are no legal options currently in the state, it could be a matter of time before Hard Rock Sportsbook returns to its active status in Florida. After Hard Rock shut down its app in Florida in December 2021 following a series of court rulings, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals held the industry in limbo while deliberating those rulings, which vacated the gaming compact between the state and the Seminole Tribe. The Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Seminole Tribe on June 30, 2023, meaning sports betting is technically legal again in Florida.

Governor Ron DeSantis signed a tribal gaming compact in April 2021 to begin the legalization process. This new compact passed state legislation in May 2021 and outlined some basic retail and online wagering framework that could help Florida develop into a thriving market.

Floridians are desperate for legalized sports betting, as there are few opportunities to do so. Florida’s closest neighbors, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, don’t offer legalized sports betting.

Fans in these neighboring states could be interested in going to Florida if sports betting is legalized. With a booming tourism scene that attracts millions of people every year looking to escape colder climates, Florida could become one of the best places to bet on sports.

State of Florida Sports Betting Overview

Optimism is running high regarding the potential of sports betting legalization in Florida.

In a major step towards legalizing sports betting, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis reached an agreement in April 2021 with the Florida Seminole Tribe, which owns the Hard Rock casinos and has gaming exclusivity in the state.

In exchange for exclusive rights to running sports betting at their casinos, the Seminole Tribe agreed to pay the state at least $500 million annually for the next 30 years. If the agreement is finalized, mobile betting in Florida will pave the way.

A secondary sports betting bill at the state level (SB 2-A) was signed into law on May 25, 2021, to complement the Governor’s gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe. While the compact has passed the Florida legislature in the House and the Senate, the agreement is still subject to review from the Department of the Interior before it becomes federal law. Legal challenges are expected.

Unfortunately, in November 2021, a US Federal Judge threw out the sports betting agreement with the Seminole Tribe, which has stopped online and in-person sports betting in Florida until further notice.

Sports betting in Florida launched officially in November 2021 with the arrival of the Hard Rock Sportsbook app; it has since been discontinued. State legislators approved a new gaming deal between the state government and the tribe operating Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

After a deal was not reached in 2019, the Seminoles announced that they would not make their annual gaming payment of approximately $330 million to the state in 2020. A new compact to restart the payment was signed in 2021, covering a comprehensive list of gaming priorities for the state and tribe.

State of Florida Sports Betting Timeline

July 7, 2023 — Gaming attorney Jeff Ifrah told LSR that he sees no reason why Hard Rock Sportsbook couldn’t re-launch in Florida before the 2023 NFL season. The Seminole Tribe owns the Hard Rock brand and is currently weighing its options.

June 30, 2023 — A DC Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the District Court decision blocking regulated sports betting in Florida. That decision makes Florida sports betting technically legal once again.

June 28, 2023 — While Florida sports bettors await a court decision on whether or not they can place bets legally again, a recent Supreme Court ruling could be a factor in the outcome.

June 13, 2023 — The NFL is reportedly enlisting the help of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady to voice the league’s sports betting policy.

May 30, 2023 — South Florida teams will compete for the NBA Championship and Stanley Cup as the Miami Heat and Florida Panthers advance to the finals in their respective leagues.

May 11, 2023 — Florida-based micro-betting app Betr made headlines this week by launching in Massachusetts and acquiring gaming solutions platform Chameleon from FansUnite Entertainment.

May 5, 2023 — Florida’s 2023 legislative session ends without any movement on legal sports betting. With the industry still in legal limbo, no new legislation could be enacted.

The DOI scored a crucial legal victory in June 2023 when a federal appeals court overturned the lower court’s decision. The Court of Appeals ruling found it within the DOI’s authority to approve the compact. It stated that any question regarding the law potentially conflicting with the Florida Constitution is a matter for state courts to decide.

Essentially, the Court of Appeals decision re-legalized sports betting in Florida but left state courts as a potential avenue to challenge the compact should West Flagler Associates lose in federal court.

But first, West Flagler Associates has committed to petitioning the Supreme Court of the United States to hear the case. In addition, West Flagler filed a motion to stay with SCOTUS to prevent the Seminole Tribe from acting on their plan to re-launch the Hard Rock Bet Florida app.

The Supreme Court denied the motion, and the Seminole Tribe soft-launched Hard Rock Bet for a limited number of Floridians on November 7th, 2023. The Hard Rock Bet Florida app opened to the general public on December 5th, 2023.

If the Supreme Court declines to hear the case, West Flagler Associates will have exhausted its opportunities to challenge the Florida sports betting law at the federal level. If SCOTUS decides to hear the case, it could take months or years to answer the Florida sports betting question.

In either case, West Flagler may still challenge the law in state court. In fact, West Flagler has already filed a petition with the Florida Supreme Court to challenge the Seminole Tribe’s sports betting plan.