Florida Sports Betting is Officially Back...Sort Of

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Nov 8, 2023 12:00 AM
Florida sports betting has returned in a limited capacity.

Well, it’s official: Florida sports betting is back. But only sort of. 

Even so, you have the ability to bet on sports in Florida from almost anywhere using your mobile device. But only if you signed up for an account with one specific Florida sports betting app all the way back in 2021.

This is still obviously a big deal. Florida sports betting hasn’t been live since the end of 2021. The legal battle has been ongoing ever since, lasting more than two years. And it’s not even over yet. 

Nevertheless, despite the limited capacity in which online Florida sports betting can now be enjoyed, this is surely a time talking about the future of sports gambling in The Sunshine State. Everyone is obviously buzzing about the freshly relaunched sports betting app offered by the Seminole Tribe in conjunction with Hard Rock Bet.

Except, well, the Seminoles and Hard Rock didn’t roll out their Florida online sports betting app to much fanfare. In fact, they relaunched on Tuesday, November 7, without any warning or promotion. News outlets and insiders are only now beginning to get hold of all the details.

So, what gives? Who can actually bet on sports in The Sunshine State? Why wasn’t there more promotion for the relaunch of the app? And does this rollout say anything about the larger future of Florida online sports betting amid continued litigation? Grab a safety buddy, and let’s wade into these suddenly intriguing waters together.

The Seminole Tribe and Hard Rock Bet Relaunched Florida Sports Betting without Warning

Were you surprised when the Seminole Tribe Florida sports betting app went live on November 7—Election Day? You’re not alone. 

Though the United States Supreme Court previously lifted their ban on sports betting in Florida, it was widely presumed the Seminole would not try to offer gambling services in-person or online. The decision was no doubt a win for them—and anyone who wants Florida sports gambling to return post haste—but the issue remains tied up in litigation. The plaintiffs in this drawn-out case, West Flagler Associates, intend to continue pushing their argument up the U.S. Supreme Court ladder. Experts almost universally agreed it may not be prudent for the Seminole Tribe to relaunch sports betting operations until the matter was completely resolved.

Of course, if the Seminoles were going to offer sports betting again, the assumption was there would be a big to-do. Betting on the NFL and betting on college football are in full swing. The state hasn’t offered legal sports betting for over two years. Any relaunch would be a massive deal. However, as John Romano reports for the Tampa Bay Times, the Seminole Tribe and Hard Rock Bet elected to remain mum on the relaunch:

Online sports betting returned to Florida Tuesday morning, although its availability is still limited.The Seminole Tribe, which currently has exclusive rights to sports betting in the state, relaunched its mobile app with little fanfare and no advance warning Tuesday.

It isn’t immediately clear why the Seminoles opted for a quiet rollout. A spokesperson for the tribe simply released a statement that said the Seminoles would be “offering limited access to existing Florida customers to test its Hard Rock Bet platform.” 

Who is Allowed to Bet on Sports in Florida?

This soft launch could be the Seminoles' way of limiting exposure as they troubleshoot, but the lack of fanfare is still odd. More than anything, the subdued relaunch is probably owed to the murky circumstances surrounding it. The ban on Florida sports betting may be lifted, but with the legal process still ongoing, the optics may not look great to members of the Supreme Court who would potentially oversee any subsequent case.

This logic jibes with who’s allowed to bet on sports in Florida at the moment. As Romano noted, the Seminole Tribe sports betting appis available to customers with existing accounts who signed up before legal challenges in December 2021 temporarily shut it down.” Data on how many people have Florida online sports betting accounts isn’t immediately available. Plenty of gamblers probably shut down their accounts at some point over the past two years. The lack of publicity surrounding the launch likely also limits the number of incumbent users who even know about it

This seems problematic from a revenue standpoint. Theoretically, as the owners of only online sports betting site in the United States allowed to operate in Florida, the Seminoles should want to maximize users. Especially if they’re not accepting new customers. 

Then again, if the goal is to avoid any extra attention, going this route may be smart. Limiting the rollout and its publicity will allow the Seminole Tribe and Hard Rock Bet to work out any kinks that pop up without openly flaunting their ability to offer sports wagering while it’s still tied up in litigation.

Is the Seminole Tribe Mobile App Relaunch a Good Sign for the Future of Florida Sports Betting?

Whether this relaunch is a good sign for the future of Florida sports betting in general remains to be seen. 

Would the Seminoles really relaunch services if they didn’t think they’d stick? Or conversely, are they merely trying to capitalize on a window they believe might close? Time will tell. 

In the interim at least, if you were betting on sports in Florida back in December 2021, you are now able to do so once again. That counts as major progress relative to what’s transpired in The Sunshine State over the past two years.

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Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan first began writing about sports back in 2011. At the time, his expertise lied in the NBA and NFL. More than one decade, that remains the case. But he's also expanded his catalog to include extensive knowledge and analysis on the NHL, MLB, tennis, NASCAR, college ba...

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