After years of litigation, delays, launches and the shuttering of the Seminole Tribe's Hard Rock Bet wagering platform, it appears as though the brand is ready to launch its sports betting product to everyone in Florida — for good this time.
On Tuesday, Florida's only current sports betting app was made available to all Florida customers, to the surprise of many. On the heels of the limited launch of betting activity for the Hard Rock Bet brand will be a full mobile launch on Thursday, ahead of Week 14 of the NFL season.
The company had been offering limited sports betting in the state since Nov. 7 in what the company called a "soft launch." ESPN BET, however, appears ready to pour rocket fuel on their Florida presence this week. Retail sports betting is also expected to be launched Thursday.
“We’re continuing our rollout of the Hard Rock Bet app in Florida and look forward to the official launch of in-person and mobile sports betting on Thursday,” spokesman Gary Bitner said in a statement.
A heavy turnout of celebrity bettors is expected for Thursday's festivities, including Mike Tyson, Bruno Mars, and Jon Bon Jovi.
Casino gaming going live the same day
It won't only be Florida sports betting that will go live on Thursday. Online casino gaming will also be launched under the Hard Rock Bet banner. Casino games like craps and roulette will be offered as part of the expanded compact the tribe signed with the Florida government.
“The Seminole Tribe of Florida is proud to point to a new era in Florida gaming with the unveiling of our new casino games,” Chairman Marcellus Osceola said in a press release Tuesday. “With the addition of craps, roulette, and sports betting, we now offer a full complement of casino games, and we join the ranks of leading casinos around the world.”
Litigation still an issue
It isn't as though the legal challenges to the Seminole Tribe and Hard Rock Bet are in the rear-view mirror. West Flagler and Associates' objection to the tribal compact signed between the Seminoles and Gov. Ron DeSantis is going before the state's Supreme Court. That compact maintained and extended the gambling monopoly the Seminoles have in the Sunshine State.
The same pari-mutuel providers are also readying a case against the Department of the Interior, the government branch that approved the compact between the tribe and the Florida government.
Through it all, the Seminole Tribe seems undeterred by the potential of ongoing legal fights with regard to their sports betting launch and monopoly.
The tribe launched back in 2021 for 34 days before being shut down by the courts. The feeling this time is that the Hard Rock Bet launch will stick, and that Florida bettors will finally be able to take advantage of the Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars strong starts.
Florida residents will join over half of the American population in the ability to place a legal sports bet, and will be able to enjoy online casino gaming from the comfort of their homes.