This week, the leaders of the Seminole Tribe of Florida unveiled plans to start offering sports betting services at their casino venues in December – a move that would be the first step in what could become a massive gambling industry expansion in the state of Florida, triggered by the permission of the US Supreme Court.
The announcement was made after more than two years of legal action regarding a 2021 gambling compact inked between the state and the Seminole Tribe, under which the Native American nation was allowed to offer online sports betting services across the state and add some traditional games, such as roulette and craps, to their casino offerings.
Even though their compact would allow sports betting in Florida, the Seminoles are to initially move forward with a more limited approach to in-person sports betting at its six facilities across the state. For the time being, a legal action challenging broader online sportsbook services is still pending the ruling of the Supreme Court of Florida.
As CasinoGamesPro already reported, on October 25th, the US Supreme Court sided with the tribe by refusing to block its 2021 deal signed by Governor Ron DeSantis that state lawmakers approved. The lawsuit was filed by two pari-mutuel companies claiming that the deal put their businesses at risk. The pending case in the Florida Supreme Court is separate from the federal lawsuit.
Initial Sports Betting Services to Be Restricted to Tribal Facilities
Citing the latest actions of the US Supreme Court, the Seminole Tribe and Seminole Hard Rock issued a statement on November 1st, saying they were set to celebrate a “new era” in the state’s gambling market.
As revealed by the tribe itself, the Seminoles are set to start offering sports betting, roulette, and craps at its three casinos in South Florida on December 7th. Then, on December 8th, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tampa will launch the games, followed by the tribal casinos in Brighton and Immokalee that will do so on December 11th.
According to the CEO of Seminole Gaming and chair of Hard Rock International, Jim Allen, the addition of the aforementioned games at the tribe’s casinos across the state will create more than 1,000 new jobs. Mr. Allen shared that was a historic milestone for both the Native American nation and the state, as it put Florida “in the same league” with some of the most iconic gaming destinations worldwide. Governor DeSantis shared that apart from the new jobs, the tribe’s new initiative would also boost the local tourism sector and account for additional revenue for the state.
The latest announcement indicated that initial sports betting services will be restricted to the tribal facilities. For the time being, there is no information on whether and when the services could go outside the Seminole Tribe’s venues.
A spokesperson for the Seminole Tribe of Florida confirmed that the compact included a “hub-and-spoke” plan that would provide local gamblers with the chance to place mobile sports bets across the state, with the wagers being processed by computer services situated on reservation lands. Under the agreement, wagers placed through mobile applications or other electronic devices should be considered exclusively conducted by the tribe.
Apart from the sports betting, roulette and craps games offering, the agreement would also allow the Seminoles to add three casinos on their reservation lands in Broward County. In return, the Native American nation agreed to pay no less than $2.5 billion to the state over the first five years, and probably billions more throughout the 30-year contract.