Seminole Tribe kicks off sports betting in Florida with quiet launch of Hard Rock Sportsbook


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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Seminole Tribe ushered in a new era of gambling on Monday, quietly launching a new app that lets Floridians place bets on sports.

Sports betting became legal in October under a gaming compact, which was signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis and Marcellus Osceola Jr., chairman of the Seminole Tribe in April, and approved by lawmakers in May.

The Hard Rock Sportsbook app’s debut comes amid a legal battle between the federal government and two Florida pari-mutuel facilities about the sports betting aspect of the compact. The owners of Magic City Casino in Miami-Dade County and Bonita Springs Poker Room in Southwest Florida are suing the U.S. Department of Interior, which approved the compact. The suit claims the compact violates federal laws and will cause a “significant and potentially devastating” impact on their businesses. A judge tossed out another lawsuit challenging the compact.

The new app, Hard Rock Sportsbook, lets Florida adults place bets on sports, using smartphones and other devices, and transfer money to wager from PayPal or Venmo.

According to the compact, bets made anywhere in Florida “using a mobile app or other electronic device, shall be deemed to be exclusively conducted by the tribe,” since they’re run through computer servers on tribal property.

Under the 30-year deal, the Seminoles agreed to pay the state $2.5 billion over the next five years. Pari-mutuel facilities would get a 60% cut of profits generated by the marketing.

“Not only will this compact bring a guaranteed $2.5 billion in revenue over the next five years, but it also brings together Florida parimutuel businesses from across the state in a creative partnership with the Seminole Tribe providing increased access to safe and transparent sports betting in Florida,” DeSantis said.

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