July 16, 2024

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Seminoles quietly kick off sports betting in Florida with new app

The Seminole Tribe on Monday quietly launched online sports betting in Florida, amid continuing legal challenges to a gambling deal approved by state lawmakers in May.

The tribe’s highly anticipated rollout of sports betting in the state came with no fanfare, and a spokesman declined to comment when asked about the launch.

But social media erupted Monday afternoon after the Seminoles’ Hard Rock Sportsbook allowed players in Florida to download a smartphone app enabling them to make deposits and place wagers on professional football, hockey and soccer games and make bets on other sports.

Previous coverage:Seminole Tribe of Florida, pari-mutuels reach sports betting agreements

High stakes:Is Florida ready for smartphone-based online sports betting?

Initial approval:Sports betting OK’d in Florida, though likely to face legal, other tests

Gov. Ron DeSantis this spring opened the door to sports betting in Florida — viewed as one of the nation’s most-fertile grounds for digital wagering — through a deal signed with tribe Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr. The Legislature signed off on the agreement, known as a compact, in a May special session, but the deal is being challenged in federal court.

A screen grab from an iPhone of the new Hard Rock sports betting app.

The “hub-and-spoke” sports-betting plan in the compact allows gamblers throughout the state to place bets online, with the bets run through computer servers on tribal property. The compact says bets made anywhere in Florida “using a mobile app or other electronic device, shall be deemed to be exclusively conducted by the tribe.”

The tribe is ultimately expected to pay billions of dollars to the state because of sports betting and other benefits in the compact, such as being able to offer craps and roulette at tribal casinos.

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