The Seminole Tribe of Florida shocked many when it announced the relaunch of its mobile sports betting app in a “limited” capacity despite facing two lawsuits. The move came a week after the in-person sports betting return in South Florida, and was not publicly announced. According to spokesman Gary Bitner, the app will be offered to existing Florida customers to test its Hard Rock Bet platform. The company is also allowing Floridians who had sports betting accounts or joined the loyalty program before November 6 to get full “early access” and place bets before the official launch.
The relaunch and lack of public announcement has surprised legal experts and those involved in the ongoing lawsuits, including Bob Jarvis and Daniel Wallach. Two lawsuits are currently challenging the gaming compact and mobile sports betting specifically. If the lawsuits are successful, the app may have to stop accepting wagers again. The U.S. Supreme Court has denied a similar stay request in the past. West Flagler, a pari-mutuel company, has implied it would request a stay following the launch of the mobile app.
Despite the potential legal risks, the tribe seems willing to take chances to generate revenue. The financial stakes are high, as each month that mobile sports betting is not offered, the Seminoles lose potentially hundreds of millions of dollars. However, some experts such as Jarvis suggest that this move might be perceived as a “slap in the face” to judges and justices who have not yet ruled on the legal matters.
The potential for another stay to halt sports betting will likely be addressed soon. If West Flagler does request an emergency stay, it must do so within a “tight time frame” or risk waiving their right to temporary relief. This move, regardless of its intentions, could have significant implications for the future of online sports betting in Florida in the short-term.