Florida Sports Betting Set to Return as Federal Court Dismisses Appeal


Today, a federal appeals court declined to rehear a case that challenged a sports wagering plan in Florida, effectively removing any barriers to the return of legal sports betting in the Sunshine State.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Washington, D.C., Circuit dismissed an appeal to reopen the case, which aimed to invalidate a tribal gaming compact between Florida state and the Seminole Tribe. This agreement, which was signed by Governor Ron Desantis in 2021, awards the Seminole Tribe exclusive rights over both retail and online sports betting within Florida.

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Without any forthcoming intervention by the Supreme Court, the Seminole Tribe will be free to operate its Hard Rock Bet sportsbook online and across its six casinos located within the state.

In response to the decision, Hard Rock Bets took to social media to post a .gif of WWE’s The Undertaker rising from a coffin, signaling their readiness to recommence operations.

The case reached this conclusion after nearly two years of legal battles initiated by West Flagler Associates, the operators of the Bonita Springs Poker Room in South Florida. West Flagler had sued the Interior Department, arguing that the tribal gaming compact contravened the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act’s prohibition on off-reservation gambling, and violated the equal protection regulations stipulated by the Constitution.

Initially, a district court had sided with West Flagler and nullified the compact in 2021. However, the decision was overturned by a three-judge panel of the DC Circuit court in June. In a final attempt, West Flagler petitioned for a rehearing by all 11 judges on the circuit in August. On Monday, this plea was denied.

With sports betting only available for a total of three weeks in 2021 prior to its shutdown in Florida, potential gamblers in the state are eager for its return. As one of the largest states where sports betting is currently not accessible, alongside California and Texas, the desire for wagering is palpable among enthusiasts, with some voicing their impatience on social media.