Seminole Tribe’s Online Sportsbook Put On Pause

About a month after it launched, Florida’s sports betting market is on hold after the Seminole Tribe suspended its online sports betting operation on Saturday.

According to a CBS Sports report, the move came just a few days after a federal court of appeals denied the Seminoles’ request for an emergency motion of stay the day before.

Just before Thanksgiving, a federal judge ruled that the new 30-year gaming compact between the tribe and the state of Florida violated federal law. The Havenick family, which owns Bonita Springs Poker Room and Magic City Casino, filed a lawsuit at the state level in July and followed it up with a nearly identical suit at the federal level a month later.

The suit claimed that the ‘hub-and-spoke’ model violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which says that any gambling involving a tribal entity must be done on tribal land. The compact between the Seminoles and the state allowed the tribe to be the sole online sportsbook, which would allow sports bettors to place wagers from anywhere in the Sunshine State.

Lawyers for the Seminole argued that since the servers are located on their land, which is where the bets are accepted, the operation is still in accordance with federal guidelines.

Although the suit was tossed out at the state level, Federal District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich disagreed with the Seminoles’ premise and ruled in favor of the Havenick family.

Following the decision, the Seminoles began filing paperwork for the appeals process and allowed its customers to continue to place bets on its online sportsbook. Once a three-judge panel denied the tribe’s attempt to continue operations during the rest of the appeals process, the tribe ceased operations. The legal battle is far from over, but at this point, the tribe would be blatantly defying the court ruling by continuing to accept wagers.

“Although we are temporarily suspending the acceptance of new bets and account deposits, we remain committed to building the best place for sports betting in Florida,” tribal spokesman Gary Bitner said.

In a tweet from the Hard Rock Sportsbook account, it was announced that active bets for events starting before 11 a.m. on Dec. 4 would run as and settled out as normal and any wager placed for an event after that point would be voided and refunded back to the account. The app will remain active for withdrawals but will not accept any bets.

“Due to yesterday’s appellate court decision, the Hard Rock Sportsbook mobile app will temporarily suspend accepting new bets and deposits,” read a tweet on Dec. 4. “Player information and account funds are safe and secure, and the app will remain online for easy withdrawals via all payment methods.”