Hard Rock Florida Launches Online Sportsbook

Hard Rock Florida Launches Online Sportsbook
Trivesh Vassen
Trivesh Vassen
December 23rd 2022

Online Sports Betting Legalized in Florida

The Sunshine State has finally joined the party and authorized mobile sports betting. But the most exciting news to result from the recent approval of sports betting in Florida is the soon-to-be-launched Hard Rock Casinos online sportsbook, due to go live on October 15th, 2021.

However, there are still a few hurdles that need to be jumped over to get to the finish line. While online sports betting in Florida is a sure thing, it will take a bit of time before you can place your first wager on your favorite sports team. Federal regulators will first have to approve a deal that expands the Seminole Tribe’s hold gambling in Florida. Once approved, this deal will see the tribe provide the state with a guaranteed $500 million in revenue sharing. The U.S. Department of Interior still has 45 days from the date Gov. Ron DeSantis signs the bill to make their decision.

Chris Sprowls, Florida’s House Speaker, stated that this historic partnership with the Seminole Tribe of Florida was quite complex and had several difficult moments which required cool heads on both sides to navigate.


Hard Rock Casino to Launch First Online Sportsbook in Florida

If everything goes according to plan, anyone physically in the state of Florida who is at least 21 years old can start to place sports wagers via their mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers on October 15th. The Hard Rock Casino in Florida plans to go live with its sports betting app on day one. The app will be managed by the tribe, jai-alai frontons, and Florida’s racetracks.

The Seminole Tribe Hit the Jackpot

Undoubtedly, the biggest winner to emerge from all of this is the Seminole Tribe. They have leveraged their operation of the famous Hard Rock Casino and Resorts into becoming one of the world’s biggest gambling operators. The Seminole Tribe will operate slots, blackjack, and other games at their existing casinos as per norm and now also have the option of building three more casinos at their property close to Hollywood, Broward County. 

CEO of Seminole Gaming, Jim Allen, has claimed that the tribe will be able to cover $400 million of the $500 million they have guaranteed the state in revenue sharing through the continued operation of full casino games. The remaining $100 million in shared revenue is expected to be covered by their sports betting operations if federal regulators approve.

Because voters in Florida approved Amendment 3 in 2018, voter approval is required to expand gambling in the state. However, one unknown is if the proposed ‘hub and spoke model’ is legal and constitutional.

The Hub and Spoke Model

This proposed model, if approved, will result in the Seminole Tribe controlling all sports betting in the state of Florida via internet servers on tribal lands. It will also allow licensed racetracks and jai-alai facilities not located on tribal lands to build and develop their own sports betting apps and take 60% of the proceeds from each wager placed, even if it goes through tribal servers.

However, as things stand, there is no clear answer on whether the hub and spoke model would be approved or not. According to the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, a state and a Tribe may enter into a compact to legalize gambling only if it happens on Indian land. The act defines ‘Indian Land’ as “all lands that form part of any Indian reservation as well as any land that happens to be held in trust by the US for the express benefit of an Indian Tribe.”

When it comes to Florida’s gambling laws, many experts feel that this model will likely be rejected by federal regulators based on the precedent that it will grant the Seminole Tribe a monopoly on sports betting across the entire state. They also feel that it will take over all forms of in-person sports betting and eradicate mobile sportsbooks and all parimutuel participation in sports betting that doesn’t originate on tribal lands. 

Experts have concluded that there is no clear answer regarding the legality of the Hub and Spoke model. In the end, if the courts did decide against this model, the Seminole Tribe will continue to make use of it at their establishments.


Moving Existing Licenses in Broward County

Several Democrats from South Florida questioned House Republicans and asked for clarification on a particular provision in the compact. This provision outlined that the Seminole Tribe would have no objection to licenses being moved within 15 miles of a currently existing brick and mortar casino in Broward County.

Many feel that this was deliberately included to allow former President Donald Trump a state gambling license. There are murmurings that if he were to gain such a license, he would then have it transferred to his resort in Doral. However, it is believed that the community is entirely opposed to this being permitted.

Online Sports Betting is Legal in Florida

So, what do all of these political ongoings have to do with the average sports fans in Florida who want nothing more than to place a wager on their beloved Miami Dolphins or Heat going all the way this year? Very little, to be honest. The reality of the fact is that on October 15th, mobile sports betting will begin, and the Hard Rock will be among the very first of Florida’s online sportsbooks to take wagers from sports fans.




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