Seminole Tribe Won't Confirm That Florida Sports Betting will Return in Time for 2023 NFL Season

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Jul 25, 2023 12:00 AM
Will Florida sports betting actually return in time for the 2023 NFL season?

A recent ruling from the United States Court of Appeals has paved the way for Florida sports betting to return almost immediately. And yet, nobody seems to know for sure if it will. At the very least, if anyone knows anything, they're not sharing that insight on the record.

For the most part, this overarching uncertainty has been tied to officials in The Sunshine State. Though the gaming compact they initially signed with the Seminole Tribe to legalize sports betting in Florida has received another stamp of approval, they have thus far refused to discuss the ramifications in any concrete terms.

The same now applies to the Seminole Tribe themselves. They, too, are unwilling to divulge whether they plan to imminently reopen sports gambling operations, which they were forced to shudder back in 2021.

All the while, plenty of people adjacent to the situation continue to speculate on what comes next. Most recently, prominent experts have mused that sports betting in Florida could return for the 2023 NFL season. That is the timeline a bunch of media outlets are now running with when covering this story. But that's without any confirmation from anyone of real importance—a genuine decision-maker from the Seminole Tribe or even the state.

And with party lines remaining ambiguous, the same question must be raised weekly, if not daily, at this point: When will sports betting return to Florida?

Seminole Tribe Offers 'No Comment' on Return of Florida Sports Betting

The messages coming from the Seminole Tribe run counter to what many sports betting experts are putting out there. Martin Vassolo recently outlined the disparity in sentiments for Axios:

"Bob Jarvis, law professor at Nova Southeastern University, tells Axios he expects the Seminole Tribe to relaunch its online sportsbook before the Aug. 26 start of college football season. A spokesperson for the Seminole Tribe had no comment when reached by Axios beyond a June 30 statement that the tribe was 'fully reviewing the decision to determine its next steps."

To some extent, this feels like a non-issue. The Seminole Tribe says they have no official plans to relaunch Florida sports betting. Shouldn't we just take that at face value? And couldn't this merely be a case of people wanting to believe sports gambling is on the verge of a return rather than a reflection of any reality?

It's certainly possible. But the Seminole Tribe could simply be playing their next move close to the vest. After all, their litigation may not be over. Remember, a lawsuit brought by Florida casino owners cost the Seminole Tribe their sports betting operations back in 2021. The U.S Court of Appeals has technically restored their agency, but the matter could theoretically be elevated to the United States Supreme Court. If that happens after the Seminole Tribe relaunches their sports gambling operations, they will have to repeal them a second time. That would be a major headache.

Granted, keeping a 2023 rollout under wraps may not prevent Florida casino owners from pushing the matter even further. But flaunting a return could coax the plaintiffs into calling for additional litigation. Basically, the Seminole Tribe could be taking an "out of sight, out of mind" approach on the issue of Florida sports betting. It wouldn't surprise us if they suddenly announced they'll relaunch in time for Floridians to bet on NCAA football or bet on the 2023 NFL football season, which begins just a couple of weeks after the college schedule.

Is the Hard Rock Sportsbook Offering Hints of Relaunch in Florida in 2023?

In the absence of official confirmation, many have started looking for bread crumbs that point to a sports betting return date. Hard Rock Sportsbook is now at the center of that change. They have now changed their name to Hard Rock Bet while incorporating a "tech migration that will see the app's sports betting and iGaming offerings housed under one app."

The timing of this move could be telltale. Hard Rock, remember, was an official partner of the Seminole Tribe when they rolled out Florida sports betting the first time. The company operated a mobile sports betting app that the Seminoles offered to their customers. That partnership is expected to resume once the tribe relaunches their sports gambling operations.

Could this news be a coincidence? Most definitely. Hard Rock is attempting to join the list of the best online sportsbook options in the United States. The incentive for revamping their app goes beyond Florida.

Nevertheless, the Florida sports betting market has top-tier earning potential. Hard Rock has a unique opportunity to capitalize on the business given their partnership with the only licensed sports betting operator in the state. Rebranding and perfecting their mobile wagering app would be a great way to enhance a prospective relaunch.

Expect a Florida Sports Betting Timeline Soon Enough

Despite the relative lack of certainty surrounding a Florida sports betting timeline, there is some good news: We should have more details on a potential relaunch soon enough.

Football season is right around the corner. College football will kick-off in roughly one month's time, and the 2023 NFL season is approximately a month-and-half away from its opener. The Seminole Tribe will have to reveal their plans in the near future if they plan to reopen by then.

On the flip side, if we hear nothing, the silence could speak volumes. In the event the Seminole Tribe does not restore Florida sports betting for the football season, it might suggest they're bracing for litigation in the United States Supreme Court. 

And if that's the case, well, buckle up. It would imply the Florida sports betting timeline is about to get pushed back at least another few months, if not longer.

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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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