Seminole Tribe shuts betting app following motion for stay rejection

The Seminole Tribe of Florida’s online sports betting app has temporarily shut down, following the outcome from its emergency motion for stay to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

The rejection of the second appeal, following the first ruling from a lower federal court at the end of November, has resulted in the tribe temporarily halting activity on its Hard Rock Sportsbook app.

On the outcome, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia cited that the Seminole Tribe of Florida “has not satisfied the stringent requirements for a stay in pending appeal”.

Following the court’s ruling, Hard Rock Sportsbook posted a statement on its twitter account which read: “Due to yesterday’s [Friday] 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.”

Moreover in an image attached to the post, the sportsbook noted that although it is temporarily suspending the acceptance of new bets and account deposits, it “remains committed to building the best place for sports betting in Florida”.

The cessation of its state-wide online sports betting operations follows on from the tribes’ first appeal rejection at the end of November by federal judge Dabney L Friedrich, who dismissed the argument that sports betting was occurring on tribal grounds because of the location of the server taking those bets, and subsequently ordered the 30-year gaming compact to revert back to its 2010 version. 

The outcome of the original appeal resulted in the court finding that the tribe “does not satisfy the requirements for the ‘extraordinary remedy’ of a stay” and noted that it failed to show the court’s decision will cause it “irreparable harm”.

In a statement to the courts, Marcellus William Osceola Jr, chair of the tribe, responded to the Federal Court’s ruling that deemed Florida’s sports betting law – which gave the Seminole Tribe a de facto monopoly – in violation of  federal Indian Gaming Law, instantly rendering sports betting illegal once again in the Sunshine State. 

Osceola Jr. stated that, if it was not permitted to operate under the 2021 compact during an appeal, the state of Florida would “lose tens of millions [dollars] per month” in revenue sharing payments from tribes. 

“The tribe’s online sports betting authorised by the compact is now in operation, and is generating millions in revenue per week,’’ explained Osceola Jr.

“The tribe is using these funds to pay back the development costs for its online sportsbook, make revenue-sharing payments to the state and fund important tribal programmes. 

“The tribe would immediately lose the millions in online sports betting revenues the tribe is generating. As a result, many of these jobs and outsourced positions would be lost.”

Since November 1, citizens of Florida had been allowed to bet and following the ruling by Friedrich, will no longer be able to do so. Moreover, it will further stop Seminole casinos offering roulette and craps to customers at venues, which Osceola Jr stated the tribe spent “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to implement from August 11, 2021 when the compact took effect, and leaves a $2.5bn hole in the state’s funding plans. 

Friedrich noted that the state was welcome to come to a new compact with tribal leaders, so long as it did not violate federal law. Any expansion of gambling activities outside a tribal compact would require voter approval, something that FanDuel and DraftKings are already working towards.