The Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise (NNGE) and Hard Rock Digital -the Hard Rock International and Seminole Gaming product for iGaming and sports betting- have teamed up to launch the Hard Rock Sportsbook mobile app in Arizona, both parties announced on Thursday.
"Mobile sports and event wagering is an important new offering that we're excited to introduce," said Brian Parrish, Interim Chief Executive Officer for the NNGE. "The Hard Rock Sportsbook mobile sports wagering platform and our brick and mortar operations will offer a broad range of wagers, marketing promotions and cross-marketing offers that will be unique to the Navajo and Hard Rock brands.”
The NNGE is a wholly-owned entity of the Navajo Nation, the largest federally-recognized Native American Nation in the US, with an enrolled membership of approximately 401,000 and trust lands totaling 27,000 square miles. The gaming enterprise operates five gaming and hospitality facilities across Arizona and New Mexico.
The gaming entity employs about 1,200 workers. The first property opened under the NNGE was the Fire Rock Navajo Casino near Gallup, in New Mexico, in November 2008. Within five years, three additional properties were added, as well as a travel plaza: Flowing Water Navajo Casino (October 2010), Northern Edge Navajo Casino (January 2012), Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort in Arizona (May 2013), Navajo Blue Travel Plaza (September 2020).
NEWS: Hard Rock Digital is proud to partner with @NavajoGaming to launch @HardRockSB in Arizona. Learn more: https://t.co/cT7ZEDW7TX— Hard Rock Digital (@HardRockDigital) January 27, 2022
"The NNGE has proven its ability to create new jobs, develop innovative, high-quality facilities and products, as well as build utility infrastructure that also supports other businesses and residential areas on the Navajo Nation," stated Quincy Natay, Board Chairman for the NNGE. "Joining forces with Hard Rock Digital fits well with our Strategic Plan and additions to our existing offerings," cited Chairman Natay.
Launched in 2020 as the exclusive iGaming and sports betting brand of the Seminole tribe, Hard Rock Digital already serves bettors in New Jersey and Iowa through the Hard Rock Sports & Casino NJ and the Hard Rock Sportsbook Iowa apps, respectively. The deal expands the product to a third state, following failed plans to launch in Florida.
"We're thrilled to partner with the NNGE to provide Arizona sports bettors with a fun and engaging gameday experience through the Hard Rock Sportsbook mobile app," said Marlon Goldstein, Executive Managing Director & CEO for Hard Rock Digital. "The Hard Rock brand is known worldwide for legendary hospitality and entertainment, and we're excited to deliver those experiences to Arizonans digitally with unrivaled mobile sports betting."
Last year, in December, the Seminole tribe was forced to halt its Hard Rock Sportsbook operations in Florida following a ruling that deemed the expanded compact that allowed sports wagering in the state illegal.
Due to yesterday’s appellate court decision, the Hard Rock Sportsbook mobile app will temporarily suspend accepting new bets and deposits. Player information and account funds are safe and secure, and the app will remain online for easy withdrawals via all payment methods. pic.twitter.com/8XhDcXzRKa— Hard Rock Sportsbook (@HardRockSB) December 4, 2021
The compact granted the tribe sole control over this form of wagering over the next 30 years and was signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis. It soon led to controversy as it allowed bettors in the state to place online wagers anywhere within Florida as long as these bets were processed through computer servers on tribal property.
On November 22, a judge ruled the agreement illegal, arguing it violated federal Indian gaming law. U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich called it “a fiction,” arguing processing bets on tribal property did not equal betting on tribal land.
Earlier this month, it was revealed the US federal government intends to appeal the federal court decision that struck down the compact. Meanwhile, the Seminole Tribe of Florida has already filed its own appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit.