- This is Florida’s first online sportsbook, and it launched more than two weeks after the original launch date.
- There are multiple lawsuits attempting to stop sports betting in Florida.
MIAMI - The first online sportsbook app has gone live in Florida, as Hard Rock Sportsbook is up and running. The sportsbook, operated in partnership with the Seminole Tribe, has been allowed to go live since Oct. 15, but was delayed.
There are several lawsuits pending against the hub-and-spoke model of sports betting that the Hard Rock app operates under.
One of those lawsuits will be seeking a federal injunction in less than a week, so it is a mark of the Seminole Tribe’s confidence that the app is up and running.
It seems unlikely that they would fire up the app only to have it taken down within a week, so they seem to expect it to stay up. Hard Rock Sportsbook can be accessed by scanning a QR code on their website, and they are currently offering a $100 risk free bet to those in the Sunshine State who sign up.
Why Are Florida Sportsbooks Controversial?
In 2018, Florida’s voters approved Amendment 3, which was worded such that voters must approve any legalization of gambling in the state.
The amendment was proposed with the intention of making it harder to legalize gambling by forcing a public campaign in addition to convincing the Florida legislature that it was a good idea.
However, Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe believe that the way in which their renegotiated online gambling compact is worded allows them to circumvent Amendment 3. The compact does this by locating all servers that operate sports betting on tribal land, and offering apps outside of tribal land.
This is what is known as the hub-and-spoke model, where the hub is the servers, and the spokes are anyone outside tribal land who now has access to sports betting.
Opponents of online sports betting in Florida call this an illusion, a trick to obey the letter of the law, but not the spirit.
Three lawsuits have been launched against the compact, and to date only one of them has been resolved - a lawsuit brought by pari-mutuel gambling companies that was dismissed on standing grounds.
Those looking to engage in online gambling in Florida now have access to sports betting, but how long will they have it? Is this the beginning of a new era for Florida, or a momentary blip?