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Hard Rock takes sportsbook offline after court ruling

| By Nosa Omoigui
Hard Rock Sportsbook, owned by Florida's Seminole Tribe, has suspended betting on its platform within the state after a court ruled the tribe's compact allowing sports betting was invalid. 
Florida sports betting decision

The platform has ceased accepting new bets, accounts and deposits, although the app will remain active for customers to withdraw funds.

All active bets for events before 11am on 4 December 2021 will be settled as normal, while all bets concerning events that fall after that cut off will be voided and players will be reimbursed.

Hard Rock said: “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.

“We hope that you have enjoyed your gameday experience on the Hard Rock Sportsbook app, and we look forward to welcoming you back in the future.”

The action comes as a result of a District of Columbia court ruling which found that Seminole Tribe of Florida’s compact with the state violates the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), thus invalidating the original agreement. 

Casino operators West Flagler Associates and Bonita-Fort Myers Corporation questioned whether online betting that takes place off of tribal lands, but powered by servers located on tribal property, could be construed as betting on tribal lands. Under Florida’s state constitution, gambling expansion off of tribal lands requires a referendum to be legal. 

The presiding Judge Dabney Friedrich concurred with the query, ruling that the compact attempted to “authorize sports betting both on and off Indian lands”.

The initial deal granted the Seminole Tribe exclusive rights to online and in-person sports betting in Florida. The ruling has brought a halt to the state’s sports betting market, which opened for business on 1 October.