Sports Betting in Florida Still Surrounded by Uncertainty

Sports Betting in Florida Still Surrounded by Uncertainty
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Uncertainty continues to surround sports betting in Florida.

Sports wagering technically becomes legal on Friday, but it’s unlikely residents will be able to place a bet then or anytime soon. No one apparently knows when it will launch, either.

A spokesman for the Seminole Tribe told CBS 12 News that sports betting could go live sometime this month or next. Palm Beach Kennel Club also told the same source it is currently in conversations with the Seminole Tribe to figure out a definitive launch date but has not heard of one.

Seminole Gaming CEO Jim Allen recently discussed the potential launch in Florida while speaking at the 2021 Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas. Allen highlighted how the original October date was agreed upon between the tribe and House Speaker Chris Sprowls when the compact negotiation process took place.

Allen reiterated he did not know an exact launch date for sports betting in Florida and mentioned Seminole Gaming has not decided if it will release retail and online sports wagering at the same time. Sports betting is being challenged in the federal court by Magic City Casino and Bonita Springs Poker Room, who believe the tribe’s Class III gaming compact with the state goes against the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. A hearing is set for Nov. 5.

Sports betting is also getting pushback from auto retailer Norman Braman and real estate developer Armando Codina. Both filed an injunction to delay the launch of sports betting across the state.

Seminole Gaming, Hard Rock

Hard Rock Digital is the provider of Seminole Gaming and Hard Rock International’s (HRI) sports wagering operations. HRI launched Hard Rock Digital in December, which leverages HRI and Seminole Gaming’s database of more than 130 million customers and footprint of nearly 250 land-based venues across 76 countries to provide an omnichannel offering for interactive gaming and sports wagering.

"With the launch of Hard Rock Digital, we are broadening our digital business, which enhances consumer experiences and offerings across our interactive gaming and sportsbook offerings," Allen said in a media release. "Hard Rock Digital also intends to pursue strategic branding and distribution opportunities both within the U.S. and globally. In the U.S. alone, the potential future market size is estimated at $7 billion for sports betting and $14 billion for online gaming."

Hard Rock Digital is managed by Rafi Ashkenazi and Matt Primeaux, who bring a background in gaming to Hard Rock. Ashkenazi was the CEO at The Stars Group, while Primeaux served as the president of FOX Bet.

“If you look at our team and look at the Stars Group and their success, specifically Rafi, that team and that platform is as good as we’ve seen in the industry,” Allen said during the Expo.

Seminole Gaming’s sports betting platform is currently in beta testing, according to Allen. He discussed his excitement as the internal team continued to test the platform.

“We would never enter a relationship with some of these companies without having a world-class team,” Allen said. “That’s what we did. We know what the product is. It’s done; I can play today if I wanted.”