Ahead of Hard Rock Sportsbook app launch

Florida: Seminoles partner with 5 pari-mutuels on sports betting amid legal dispute

Jim Allen, CEO of Seminole Gaming and Chairman of Hard Rock International, which is owned by the Seminole Tribe.
2021-10-29
Reading time 3:07 min
The tribe announced the deals as it readies to launch the Hard Rock Sportsbook mobile app, which still has no set date yet. Pari-mutuels will market the sportsbook at their facilities and to their customers and in return earn 60% of the profits generated from their efforts. The tribe said the state has received its first monthly revenue sharing contribution earlier this month. The compact is facing federal legal challenges and a push to get sports betting on the ballot in 2022.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida has signed agreements with five pari-mutuels in preparation for the upcoming launch of the Hard Rock Sportsbook mobile app in the state, announced the tribal group on Thursday. However, a date for when sports betting will launch has not been announced yet.

The five pari-mutuels that have signed the agreements with the tribe are Palm Beach Kennel Club, West Palm Beach; Hialeah Park Casino, Hialeah; Ocala Gainesville Poker and Ocala Breeder’s Sales Company, Ocala; Tampa Bay Downs, Tampa; and TGT Poker & Racebook, Tampa.

The pari-mutuels will market the sportsbook at their facilities and to their customers and in return earn 60% of the profits generated from their efforts. Additional marketing agreements with Florida pari-mutuels are expected “to be announced soon.” 

"Today's announcement follows through on the Tribe's commitment to include pari-mutuel marketing partners in Florida sports betting,” said Jim Allen, CEO of Seminole Gaming and Chairman of Hard Rock International, which is owned by the Seminole Tribe. “They are an important component for the coming launch of sports betting throughout the state of Florida."

Allen further remarked the tribe has “already exceeded” the compact’s minimum requirement of three pari-mutuel agreements. However, the Seminoles and its gaming arm “look forward to developing more relationships with pari-mutuels” around the state.

The tribe also issued an update on the much-discussed gaming compact the tribe signed with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis back in April. "In addition to our revenue sharing contributions, we are hiring hundreds of Floridians and investing millions of dollars in the state,” said Seminole Tribe of Florida Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr.

The compact guarantees a minimum of $2.5 billion in revenue sharing for Florida over the first five years. The tribe announced the state has received its first monthly revenue sharing contribution earlier this month, when a $37 million payment was transmitted.

"As was promised when it was signed, this historic compact is expanding economic opportunity, tourism, and recreation in Florida," said Governor Ron DeSantis. "Today's announcement is a great success for the state and the Seminole Tribe, and I look forward to the announcement of additional partnerships to come."

The new Florida law allows gamblers anywhere in the state to place sports wagers through online devices, with bets run through servers on Seminole Tribe property. Pari-mutuels partnering with the Seminoles enter contracts with the tribe to market sports betting at their own facilities.

Seminole Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos in Tampa and Hollywood are preparing for the launch of retail sports betting, which will also be available at four more Seminole Casinos located in Immokalee, Brighton, Coconut Creek and Hollywood.

However, the road to launching sports betting in the state, which still hasn’t occurred despite it being legal, has proved to be a bumpy one. The extended compact has drawn legal challenges from several parties, alleging it violates the law.

While a federal lawsuit in Tallahassee, filed by the owners of the pari-mutuels Magic City Casino and Bonita Springs Poker Room, has been dismissed earlier this month, others are pending. The owners of the aforementioned gaming venues have also filed a federal lawsuit in Washington, D.C., as have two prominent South Florida businessmen and the group No Casinos.

Those pending challenges were filed against the U.S. Department of the Interior, which oversees Indian gambling issues and allowed the compact to move forward. The No Casinos-backed lawsuit has received a November 5th hearing date.

Moreover, the Seminoles tribe is facing a DraftKings and FanDuel-backed push to get sports betting on the ballot in 2022, challenging its exclusive rights to sports wagering in the state. The recently created Florida Education Champions committee, which is working to gather signatures, is proposing legislation that would open up online sports betting statewide to any legal sports betting platforms.

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