Online sports betting goes live in Florida with the surprise early access launch of Hard Rock Bet

Currently limited access

In a surprise for sports fans in Florida, Hard Rock Bet has gone live with a limited early access launch. Just last week, the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which owns Hard Rock Bet, announced it would finally launch retail sports betting in December, but remained tight-lipped about online betting. However, on Tuesday morning, the following was posted to announce the launch of Hard Rock Bet:

It is the first time since November 2021 that Hard Rock Bet is live.

The service is not yet open to everyone in Florida. At the moment it is only available to certain groups, mainly those loyal to hard rock in Florida. Anyone who bet on sports in the few weeks Hard Rock Bet was available two years ago has full access and can get started.

Anyone who joined the Unity by Hard Rock loyalty program before November 6th can also log in and place bets at Hard Rock Bet. Anyone who signed up for Unity by Hard Rock after November 6th (so… today by the time you read this) can still get access to Hard Rock Bet. What they need to do to earn at least one Unity Point by playing live casino games at a Hard Rock Casino in Florida, then download the app and get started.

Everyone else has to wait. Some will still be able to get early access by signing up for the Unity program and earning at least one point at a brick-and-mortar casino. They can then register for Hard Rock Bet and get on the waiting list.

The legal battles appear to be over

As mentioned, Hard Rock Bet was live for a short time two years ago after the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the state reached a deal that gave the tribe exclusive control of sports betting in Florida. Competitors sued, saying the tribe’s “hub-and-spoke” model of having servers on tribal land but allowing bettors across the state violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). The Seminole Tribe argued that the betting actually took place there because the servers were on sovereign land, making it legal.

In the last two years there have been repeated legal disputes and in the meantime Hard Rock Bet was no longer allowed to operate. However, in late October, the US Supreme Court rejected an emergency motion to block the agreement, setting the stage for today’s launch of Hard Rock Bet. Retail sports betting as well as craps and roulette will be available at Seminole retail casinos starting today.

With the launch of Hard Rock Bet, Florida is now the most populous state in the US with legal sports betting.

Photo credit: / Boston Public Library

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