West Flagler Associates, a pari-mutuel betting operator, has taken legal action against the Seminole tribe’s Hard Rock Bet online sports betting offering in Florida. The launch of Hard Rock Bet on November 7 has prompted West Flagler to file a motion with the Florida Supreme Court, seeking the suspension of online sports betting until a final ruling on its petition for writ of quo warranto.
West Flagler argues that the tribe’s launch of off-reservation mobile betting was not previously announced and came as a surprise. The tribe had announced the launch of authorized games at its tribal casinos on December 7, but there was no mention of off-reservation mobile betting. The operator claims that the tribe took advantage of the distraction created by its carefully crafted announcement to surprise them and the court with the sudden launch of live bets on November 7.
The ongoing legal challenge by West Flagler adds to the ongoing debate over sports betting in Florida. The tribe’s initial launch of Hard Rock Bet in 2021 was halted when a ruling found that the gaming compact violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). This decision came after a suit filed by West Flagler and Bonita-Fort Myers questioned whether offering sports betting through tribal-based servers was the same as betting on tribal land.
West Flagler has continued its legal challenges, filing a rehearing petition and a legal challenge against Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida state legislature. However, the US Supreme Court’s rejection of West Flagler’s motion to stay in October allowed the Seminoles a window to launch sports wagering unchallenged.
The ongoing legal battles reflect the complexity and controversy surrounding sports betting in Florida, with both tribal and non-tribal operators vying for the opportunity to offer sports betting in the state. As the dispute continues, the future of online sports betting in Florida remains uncertain.