Florida Supreme Court Rejects Bid to Shut Down Online Sports Betting

Hard Rock relaunched mobile sports betting on November 7 in Florida, accepting mobile wagers in the Sunshine State for the first time since late 2021.

Last Updated: Nov 17, 2023 4:29 PM ET Read Time: 2 min
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Online sports betting isn’t going anywhere in Florida, at least not until the state Supreme Court is good and ready to say otherwise.

The Supreme Court of Florida on Friday unanimously rejected a motion by two gaming companies to shut down the limited version of online sports betting that recently began in the state via the Seminole Tribe and their Hard Rock Bet brand.

A long legal history

Hard Rock relaunched mobile sports betting on November 7 in Florida, accepting mobile wagers in the Sunshine State for the first time since late 2021, after a judge threw out federal approval of a gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe.

The compact and the state legislation supporting it granted control of legal sports betting in Florida to the Seminole but the online wagering provisions were challenged in court, causing the two-year Hard Rock shutdown. 

An appeals court decision earlier this year paved the way for a return of Seminole-controlled online sports betting to Florida, although that, too, is still being fought over, and a U.S. Supreme Court review is still a possibility. 

There is also a legal challenge brewing before the Florida Supreme Court, which has yet to officially rule on the merits. 

West Flagler Associates Ltd., Bonita-Fort Myers Corp., and Isadore Havenick (vice president of both companies) then filed a motion with the Supreme Court of Florida last week asking the justices to “immediately suspend the sports betting provisions” of state law following the Hard Rock relaunch.

“The sports betting provisions of the Implementing Law represent a paradigm shift in Florida’s approach to tribal gaming that is inapposite to article X, section 30 of the Florida Constitution,” the West Flagler group alleged. “A temporary suspension of the offending provisions of the Implementing Law—which will ensure the status quo, i.e., no sports betting statewide—will therefore have no impact on the Court’s authority to afford any relief in this proceeding.”

7 out of 7 justices agree

On Friday, however, that request was officially rejected, meaning the biggest state-level market for legal sports betting (albeit that legality is still being challenged) remains open, albeit in its currently limited fashion. 

"The Seminole Tribe of Florida is pleased with this unanimous decision by the Justices of the Florida Supreme Court," a spokesperson said Friday.

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