Sports betting app back up in Florida, though not everyone can use it

TAMPA — Online sports betting returned to Florida Tuesday morning, although its availability is still limited.

The Seminole Tribe, which currently has exclusive rights to sports betting in the state, relaunched its mobile app with little fanfare and no advance warning Tuesday. The app is available to customers with existing accounts who signed up before legal challenges in December 2021 temporarily shut it down.

“The Seminole Tribe is offering limited access to existing Florida customers to test its Hard Rock Bet platform,” Seminole Tribe spokesperson Gary Bitner said in an email Tuesday morning.

In late October, the U.S. Supreme Court lifted a hold on earlier rulings that challenged the legality of the tribe’s growing sports betting enterprise. Days later, the tribe announced in-person sports betting, along with craps and roulette, would begin Dec. 7 at its three South Florida casinos and Dec. 8 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa.

At the time of that announcement, a Seminole spokesperson said there was no information about mobile sports betting.

The future of sports betting in the state is still being challenged by another petition with the Florida Supreme Court filed by parimutuel facilities. The legal challenge argues that the agreement between the Seminole Tribe and the state is illegal because Florida voters had overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment in 2018 that required any gambling expansion be voter-approved.

There is also an issue of whether the mobile app is legal since it can be used anywhere in the state and does not require bettors to be on tribal land.