Big Loss for Bettors and Education in Florida

7th Tribal Council Chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida Marcellus William Osceola Jr. Zak Bennett/AFP

Beginning in November of 2021, things were on the up and up for sports bettors in Florida, which also meant a bright future for the state’s coffers.

On the first of that month, the Seminole Tribe, which is the most powerful group behind sports betting in the state, launched the Hard Rock app. The Hard Rock was an online sportsbook.

Unlike what we would have seen in Mississippi if their recent push for mobile sports betting had been successful, in-person account registration was not required.

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Plus, the app was available all throughout Florida, meaning that sports betting was finally mobile and superbly widespread. However, the legality of this app was never certain.

The Downfall of Hard Rock 

To explain, sports betting conducted with the Seminole Tribe needs to take place on its territory. It is true that the computer servers on which the mobile sports wagers were being placed are located on Seminole territory.

However, the sports bettors themselves were not on mobile territory. It was therefore ruled that the Hard Rock app was not legally sustainable because bets were being placed outside of Seminole territory.

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You might disagree with this ruling given the location of the computer servers, but the deciding courts simply had the say. Given this legal turn of events, after just over a month since its launch, the Hard Rock app was taken down.


In addition to the Seminole Tribe’s initiative, FanDuel has invested significant effort into supporting the legality of online sports betting in Florida. To be clear, FanDuel’s involvement is still tied to the Seminole Tribe.

These agents are connected because FanDuel would need to concede a portion of their revenue to the Seminole Trible in return for permission to operate in the state of Florida.

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FanDuel helped create, sustain, and promote a ballot initiative that would place online sports betting on the ballot in an attempt to have it go live in the Sunshine State by 2023.

FanDuel did this partly by contributing over 14 million dollars. Public betting figures also tried to rally Floridians to the cause.

The initiative required at least 900,000 signatures, but its promoters managed only over half. Florida residents were too apathetic or too unwilling to support the cause.

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Although, one may suggest optimism for such future endeavors because this initiative was started late in the year.

It was always going to be difficult to obtain so many signatures in so little time. Optimism aside, Florida sports bettors face defeat for now.

One More Year

FanDuel and others do not have a path in the Sunshine State now that this initiative has failed to make the ballot.

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This is not only a disappointment for sports bettors but one for the state. The additional revenue generated by sports betting, as we see in New York, for example, helps out the entire state.

This revenue would have been directed to supporting public education in Florida. But the kids, in addition to the gamblers, have to face disappointment for at least another year.