With its gaming compact now restored, the Seminole Tribe of Florida announced Wednesday it will start to add new gaming options, including Florida sports betting, next month at its Class III casinos in the state. However, the tribe did not reveal plans to resume online sports betting in the state.
The move came one week after the U.S. Supreme Court denied to block an appellate court’s decision to overturn a lower court’s 2021 ruling that threw out the compact reached by the tribe and Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“The Seminole Tribe thanks the State of Florida, the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Justice for defending our compact. By working together, the Tribe, the State and the federal government achieved a historic legal victory,” said Seminole tribe Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr.
While the exclusive online sports betting rights, including Florida betting apps, generated the most attention in the agreement, it also gave the Seminoles rights to offer brick-and-mortar sportsbooks, roulette, and dice-based table games. Those games will be unveiled at three Seminole casinos in South Florida on Dec. 7 and a day later at its Hard Rock Tampa casino. The tribe’s casinos at Immokalee and Brighton will start having those games on Dec. 11.
“With the expansion of the new scope, we are creating over 1,000 new jobs made possible by the Compact,” said Jim Allen, CEO of Seminole Gaming and Chairman of Hard Rock International. “This is a historic milestone that immediately puts Florida in the same league with the world’s great gaming destinations.”
Lawsuits Still Ongoing
The Seminole Tribe is proceeding with the new games even as lawsuits against the compact remain in federal and Florida courts. Even though the U.S. Supreme Court chose not to stay the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ June decision, West Flagler Associates and Bonita-Fort Myers Corp. are still planning to ask the nation’s top court to review the case against the U.S. Department of the Interior, the federal department charged with overseeing tribal gaming. Last week, Justice Brett Kavanaugh issued a statement saying he had some concerns about the online sports betting provisions.
In addition, the plaintiffs in the federal case have also filed a lawsuit with the Florida Supreme Court, arguing that the online sports betting clauses in the compact violate the state’s constitution. Voters five years ago passed an amendment requiring any expansion of commercial gaming to be approved by a referendum. The state is expected to respond to that lawsuit by Dec. 1
Tribal and state leaders have argued that the online sports betting provisions fall under tribal gaming because the servers for the Florida Hard Rock Bet app will be located on tribal land.
Florida To Receive Billions From Tribe
The Seminole gaming compact was announced in 2021. In the 30-year deal, the tribe agreed to share revenue with the state in exchange for the expanded gaming options. When it was reached, the deal was expected to provide the state with $2.5 billion through the first five years and $6 billion through 2030.
“The Seminole Tribe of Florida’s new initiative will create jobs, increase tourism, and provide billions in added revenue for our state,” DeSantis said in a statement from the Seminole release. “I was proud to work with the Tribe on our historic Gaming Compact, and I look forward to its full implementation.”