Sports gambling is once again unavailable in Florida. The Seminole Tribe suspended its online sports betting operation on Saturday after a federal court of appeals denied its request for an emergency motion of stay a day prior.
Tribal spokesman Gary Bitner told the Tallahassee Democrat the Hard Rock SportsBook mobile app will "temporarily suspend operations" after Friday's decision, and as of Saturday morning users saw an error message stating as such when trying to place bets.
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
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe brought sports gambling to the state this spring in a 30-year-deal, and the Legislature authorized it in May. The deal allowed the Seminole Tribe to run all the state's bets through computer servers on its property.
The Seminole Tribe agreed to pay at least $2.5 billion to the state over five years as part of the deal, and according to the Tallahassee Democrat, it has already paid $75 million since October.
Bitner says Hard Rock SportsBook bettors will have their account balances "refunded as requested," but that doesn't signal the end of the Tribe's sports-gambling operations.
"Although we are temporarily suspending the acceptance of new bets and account deposits, we remain committed to building the best place for sports betting in Florida," Bitner said.
The Hard Rock SportsBook app told users bets placed for events starting before 11 a.m. ET on Saturday were allowed to run and settle. Any bets on events starting after 11 a.m. were voided, meaning bettors couldn't gamble on a single game of college football's Championship Saturday.
After two Florida casinos alleged the Tribe's sports-gambling deal violated federal law and would have a "significant and potentially devastating" effect on their businesses, U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich invalidated it on Nov. 22 to effectively outlaw sports gambling in the state.
The Tribe filed an emergency motion last week in an attempt to continue its sports-gambling operations amid the appeal, but a divided three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia denied it.
While the Tribe cannot operate under its old deal, U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich wrote it can craft a new one to allow sports gambling "solely on Indian lands."