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Sports Betting News

Online Betting in Florida: Here’s What You Should Know
Published Jan 17, 2024
by Gil Larson

Over the course of the last few years, there have been efforts to make significant changes in the status of Florida sports gambling. Many of these elements will happen behind-the-scenes between the state government, the Seminole Tribe of Florida, and various pari-mutuel facilities like Tampa Bay Downs. The upshot is that you can now legally place bets on sports anywhere in the state using the Hard Rock Sportsbook app offered by the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

A new online Florida sportsbook is an exciting prospect, but we know that you’re bound to have some questions. We consider transparency to be vital when it comes to helping you engage with Tampa Bay Downs or any businesses we associate with. So, we’ve provided some answers to common queries you may have. To make things easier, we’ve separated these into sections on the legislation surrounding these changes and the logistics of using the new services.

Table of contents


What has changed that allows me to place online bets in Florida? 

In previous years, the state of Florida sports betting has been limited primarily to casinos and horse racing. However, in April 2021, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a compact that effectively allowed sports betting to occur on Seminole tribal land. This compact covered various areas that cover sports gambling priorities for the Tribe and ongoing benefits for citizens of the state. 

Part of this process included forming a legal framework for gambling that takes into account the methods and challenges of the modern world. This includes the need to make betting services more transparent in ways that enhance their safety. There’s also an imperative for the industry to adapt to the public’s enthusiasm for mobile technology. Perhaps most importantly, it’s vital to establish more ways for betting service revenue to benefit the community. As a result of the compact, the Tribe is providing the state with $6 billion in revenue over the next decade and is projected to create 2,200 local jobs. Recognizing the positive impact this compact could have on Florida families and businesses, state legislators gave their approval for the deal in May 2021.

As a central aspect of this compact, the Seminole Tribe is required to make partnership agreements with parimutuels in the state. Tampa Bay Downs was among the first to partner with the Tribe to market mobile online sports betting, with the Seminole receiving a 40% cut of profits in return. 

So, what does this mean on a practical level for you? Essentially, the result is sports gambling is legal in Florida wherever you are in the state on the condition that you use an app operated by the Seminole Tribe. The compact allows for other apps to be utilized, but only if those companies reach agreements with the Seminole Tribe first. As it stands, Hard Rock Sportsbook — which was launched on November 1st 2021 — is the only app to legally offer sports betting in Florida.

If the Seminole Tribe is the only party cleared to allow online betting, why am I seeing Hard Rock?

Most people will be familiar with the Hard Rock brand as a staple of popular culture. On March 11th 2007, the Seminole Tribe of Florida announced its acquisition of Hard Rock International. This was a deal unlike any other undertaken by an Indian Tribe and included the majority of the brand’s cafes, restaurants, hotels, casinos, and concert venues across the U.S.

As part of the compact agreed by Governor DeSantis and Seminole Tribe of Florida Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr., sports betting can take place through online servers located on Seminole property. In this instance, the servers operated by Hard Rock Digital facilitate betting through the Hard Rock Sportsbook application. This means that through this internationally recognized brand, the Seminole Tribe can offer citizens and visitors to Florida mobile sports betting anywhere in the state.  

Can I place bets with any other apps?

The compact that led to opportunities to place sports bets throughout Florida is based on the condition that betting is facilitated only by the Seminole Tribe. At the current time, only apps supported by servers owned by the Seminole Tribe are cleared for sports betting. This means only the bets you place using Hard Rock Sportsbook fall under new legislation.

However, that’s not to say that this will always be the case. Alongside marketing relationships with parimutuels like Tampa Bay Downs, the compact includes consideration for other sportsbook applications to offer sports betting in Florida. However, the caveat here is that these applications will need to form agreements with the Seminole Tribe before they are able to operate legally and in accordance with the compact.

Many people are making queries about whether they can utilize familiar sportsbook applications like MyBookie and Bet365 in Florida. However, it’s important to note that many popular apps are limited to use when you’re in a qualifying state or operate on off-shore principals. None of these are legally cleared for sports betting within the state of Florida. Indeed, off-shore betting offers none of the legal protections consumers get by playing under state guidelines. 

That’s not to say that this situation won’t change in the future. The legislation is still very new and discussions between the Seminole Tribe and other businesses are likely to arise. In the meantime, the position is very clear. The only app you can use to place sports bets anywhere in the state of Florida is Hard Rock Sportsbook.

Where does Tampa Bay Downs fit in?

While the Seminole Tribe has been granted exclusive sports betting rights under the terms of the compact, part of the intention of the deal is to expand opportunities across the state of Florida. As such, the Tribe has made marketing agreements with a select group of pari-mutuel facilities across the state. Tampa Bay Downs was one of the first pari-mutuels to collaborate with the Seminole Tribe on this basis. 

Under this new model for sports betting, Tampa Bay Downs is the first point of contact with you as a consumer. The company markets the app and its associated services, interacting with the public from a customer service perspective. In turn, Hard Rock receives 60% of profits generated. As a brand fans have long trusted to facilitate racing, golf, and poker bets, Tampa Bay Downs is well placed to connect discerning gamblers to a reliable service in the form of Hard Rock Sportsbook. 

It’s often easier to think of the relationship as a wheel. The Seminole Tribe and its Hard Rock Sportsbook app are the hub, facilitating all the logistical and financial aspects of the bets being placed. Pari-mutuels like Tampa Bay Downs are the spokes reaching out from this hub toward the consumer, making certain you have access to the opportunities the Tribe has to offer wherever in Florida you happen to be. 

If I’m betting via the app, does that mean I can place bets anywhere in the U.S.?

No, you will not be able to place bets anywhere outside of Florida. The compact between the Seminole Tribe and the state is only applicable within the geographical boundaries of Florida. This is the agreement that has been reached by state legislators and was subsequently allowed to proceed by the federal Department of the Interior.

Each state operates its own licensing and regulations in respect of gambling. There is no federal license that allows sportsbooks to operate on a national basis. You’ll find that some sportsbook apps are available in certain states but not others. As a result, Hard Rock Sportsbook is not just the best sports betting app in Florida, it’s the only one that is legal at the moment.

If I am just visiting Florida, can I place bets using the Hard Rock Sportsbook app?

You do not have to be a resident of the state of Florida to access the Hard Rock Sportsbook. You don’t even need to live in Tampa to access the service through Tampa Bay Downs. As long as you have an email address, a mobile device, are over the age of 21, and can pass the verification process, you can sign up for a Hard Rock Sportsbook account. However, you will only be able to engage in betting in Florida boundaries. You can, however, make deposits and withdrawals wherever you are.

So, if you visit Florida regularly for business, vacations, or to meet up with family, you can also take advantage of the app while you’re here. The games or sports you’re betting on don’t have to take place within Florida, either. If you want to make a bet on your home team while you’re visiting Florida, you can do so with the app.

However, it’s worth bearing in mind that you can make deposits and withdrawals from anywhere, it doesn’t have to be in Florida. Though, many veteran users will simply roll over their winnings into future bets rather than withdrawing. You can keep your winnings safely in your account for the next time you’re in the state and want to place a bet. 

At present, making certain you’re using a legal sportsbook service is really simple. As per the compact, the Seminole Tribe is the only party able to operate sportsbook services in Florida. Therefore, your best way to make sure you’re using a legitimate service is by checking to see if the pari-mutuel you’re using directs you to sign up for the Hard Rock Sportsbook app. 

If you’re playing through Tampa Bay Downs, you can be assured of the legality of the process as we are one of just a handful of pari-mutuels that made the first deals with the Seminole Tribe to facilitate access to the Hard Rock Sportsbook app. As such, this is a reliable method to ensure that you are placing sports bets within the regulations of Florida licensing. 

However, this is still a relatively new situation. There will likely be more deals made with pari-mutuels and other applications in the months and years ahead. If you consider utilizing a different app or pari-mutuel connection in the future, you’ll need to do some research to confirm their connection to the Seminole Tribe of Florida. 

Is there a chance the Florida legislation will be withdrawn?

We live in a democracy and one of the great advantages of this is there is always the opportunity to reassess legislation and request changes. As such, the simple answer is yes, there is always a chance that Florida gambling laws relating to this compact may be withdrawn at some point in the future. 

The compact is still subject to objections from some parties. One of the most prominent of these is coming from the federal government. In essence, their case revolves around the argument that online mobile betting facilitated by the Seminole Tribe is contrary to the laws that allow gambling to occur only on reservations (specifically, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, or “IGRA”). However, there are strong defense arguments that the terms of the compact fall well within state law. This is an ongoing situation, though, and the continued provision of Hard Rock Sportsbook will be impacted by the outcome.

There have also been some lawsuits in respect of whether the exclusive provision of online mobile sportsbook betting through the Seminole Tribe could damage the business of other related businesses and local pari-mutuels. One such case has already been dismissed but others are ongoing and there may be more in future. 

As it stands, though, the compact has been through years of rigorous legislative processes to ensure it is valid under state and federal guidelines. This has been sufficient to allow the Hard Rock Sportsbook app and the marketing relationships with pari-mutuels to continue as planned.

Logistical Questions


Can I download the app from the Tampa Bay Downs website?

You cannot download the Hard Rock Sportsbook app directly from the Tampa Bay Downs website. This process doesn’t operate in the same way you might otherwise make online racing or poker bets through Tampa Bay Downs. Think of the pari-mutuel as the access point through which you sign up for an account with the app. 

You’ll click on a unique Tampa Bay Downs link that takes you through to start the registration process with Hard Rock Sportsbook. This is a relatively simple two-step process. The most important part of this is the second step that provides the information needed for you to pass the legally required verification procedure. Unless you have completed this second step, you will not be able to proceed further. Your information and identity will then be checked by a trusted third party verification service. You’ll then be redirected to a page that allows you to download the Hard Rock Sportsbook app and log in. From this point you can transfer funds to your new account and start placing bets through the app.  

How do I place bets with Hard Rock Sportsbook?

The sportsbook application has been designed to make sports gambling in Florida as simple as possible while also giving you a range of wagering options to choose from. 

The first step before you’re able to make any bets is, of course, adding funds to your account. This is a requirement within the first 90 days of registering for your account in any case — not including any funds deposited as a result of any promotions.

Next, you’ll need to select the sport and the game that you want to place a bet on. From here, you usually have several options for types — known as markets — of wager to choose from. This can depend on the game itself. The most popular options tend to be Moneyline (a wager on who you think will win the game), a Spread (betting on the specific points outcome of the game), and Total (where you are provided with a number and have to bet whether the points total of the game will be higher or lower than that number).

You then tap on the odds you want to place a bet on, which will trigger a pop-up screen to summarize your bet choices. By tapping on the summary bar you’ll be taken to a details page where you can set the amount you want to bet and review the potential winnings before confirming. Once you hit the “place bet” button, your wager is complete. 

This is the general process for placing bets with Hard Rock Sportsbook. There are several other types of wager that will have specific details and processes. These are clearly outlined within the app. 

How is pari-mutuel betting different from other sports betting?

Whether you’re visiting the Tampa Bay Downs site for the first time or you’ve been following the compact legislative process, you’ll have seen the term “pari-mutuel” pop up frequently. 

This describes a type of betting that isn’t based on the more common process of making a wager based on predetermined odds. In this instance, the consumer placing the bet does not stand to make more money by choosing an outcome with higher odds. Otherwise known as “pool betting”, pari-mutuel wagers see all funds going into a central space with those placing bets betting on the outcome of the race or game. The pool of bets is then distributed equally between all those who chose accurately, with the amount paid dependent upon how much was wagered. The pari-mutuel organizations that facilitate these bets take a percentage of the fund pool before winnings are divided and distributed.

However, this doesn’t mean that your wagers using the Hard Rock Sportsbook app are limited to this type. When “pari-mutuels” are discussed in relation to the compact brought by the Seminole Tribe, simply this refers to organizations in Florida that traditionally operate on a pari-mutuel basis. Tampa Bay Downs is one of these organizations. These pari-mutuels will be marketing the Hard Rock Sportsbook service, but you can make a variety of types of wager when using the app. 

Can I just make occasional bets as a guest without having to sign up for a Hard Rock Sportsbook account?

No, you cannot use the Hard Rock Sportsbook app as a guest. The primary reason for this is the law requires that online betting services verify the identity of users. Obviously, it would be inconvenient for users to have to verify their identity every time they want to place a bet as a guest, so it makes more logistical sense to have an account system. 

Aside from the legal requirements, signing up for an account opens you up to options that help to make the betting process more fun and practical. It allows you to store your winnings and take advantage of sessions that include various types of bets, including parlays and round robins. There are also benefits to membership, including promotions and personalized services. 

From a safety perspective, being an account holder helps Hard Rock Sportsbook collaborate with you on personalized forms of responsible play. There are a selection of tools in the app designed to protect you and keep everything fun. This includes setting deposit limits, staking limits, session limits, and a designated timeout period. There’s also the option for self exclusion, which allows you to shut yourself out of your account for a specific period of time.   

What information will I need to provide during the verification process?

The verification process is a legal requirement for all Florida’s online sports betting services. However, it’s also important to recognize how important your data is, and as such the types of information required to verify your identity are kept only to the essentials. 

These will include: 

  • Your first and last name
  • Your date of birth
  • Your phone number
  • Your address
  • The last 4 digits of your social security number

What is the minimum I need to deposit into my account?

You must deposit $10 into your account before you can place a bet. It’s important to make the Hard Rock Sportsbook system accessible to as many people as possible. We want to offer opportunities to rookies just looking for a little fun as well as to hardcore veterans. As such, the minimum amount is set relatively low. 

Is there a specific amount I need to bet within 90 days?

You only have to place a single bet within the first 90 days of service in order to keep your account active. The minimum amount you need to place within this time is the same as the minimum amount you must bet on any game: just $1. 

However, as previously outlined, you can’t simply deposit $1 in your account and use it to place a bet. The minimum deposit amount remains $10.  

What operating system (OS) is Hard Rock Sportsbook compatible with?

The Hard Rock Sportsbook is compatible with both Apple iOS and Android operating systems. As such, you can get access to mobile betting on most smartphones and tablet devices. Equally, downloading the app is facilitated through both the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Can I use the app on multiple devices (e.g. my phone and my tablet) at the same time?

There may be times that you’ll have multiple mobile devices that you use in different circumstances. You might be on the commute to work or on your lunch break and want to bet on your NHL team using your phone. You might be relaxing at home with your iPad on a Sunday afternoon and want to make things a little more fun with a bet on the NFL games. Maybe your kids are playing with your tablet that you usually place bets on. The good news is you can download the app to multiple devices on the condition that you only have a single account. 

You can’t have separate Hard Rock Sportsbook accounts for each device. This is a rule the company sticks to strictly. Indeed, they are keen to be transparent about the possibility that your duplicate account may be deactivated if it is discovered. So, stick to just one account, even if you have to sign in and out on separate devices. 

Is Hard Rock Sportsbook available on desktop?

Hard Rock Sportsbook is specifically designed to be a mobile betting service. The mobile app can be found in your respective app store, and you can also use our desktop version here: https://app.hardrock.bet.

This helps to keep things simple, and allows you to access hundreds of games to place wagers on by just picking up your phone. 

How does the “No Risk” first bet work?

The No Risk first bet is a promotional offer for new account holders for the Florida Sportsbook app. In this instance, you can place a first bet of up to $100 with the Hard Rock Sportsbook app knowing that if you lose the bet, you won’t lose those funds. If you don’t win, the amount you bet will be refunded back into your account. Unlike many other betting apps, this isn’t refunded as credit only — it goes back into your account as cash. However, you must deposit into your account the amount you wish to bet before you place your risk-free wager. 

Hard Rock No Regret First Bet offer

What methods can I use to add funds to my account?

Security is extremely important when it comes to using the Hard Rock Sportsbook app. As such, these are the options to deposit funds to your account, each featuring secure processes. Funding methods include: ACH, PayPal, Venmo, and Credit / Debit cards.

  • Direct Bank Deposit

You can securely link your bank to your account. Head to the deposit section of the app, select “add new payment method” and click on “instant bank transfer”. A secure connection with the Plaid fintech service will then be established so you can add your bank details safely.

  • Paypal

Similarly to a direct bank transfer, you can head into the deposit section of the app and select Paypal under the new payment method options. This will redirect you to the Paypal website so you can make your deposit accordingly. However, you can only make deposits via a linked bank account you’ve attached to your Paypal account.

  • Venmo

Selecting Venmo in the new payment method section of the deposits page will redirect you to the Venmo website. However, you cannot use Venmo balances or credit cards to make a deposit. You can only use a bank account that is linked to your Venmo account to transfer funds to your Hard Rock Sportsbook account.  

What is the minimum amount I can withdraw from my account and how often can I withdraw?

As with making deposits, the minimum amount you can withdraw from your Hard Rock Sportsbook account is $10. There is no required interval between withdrawals, either. You can choose to transfer these funds via your bank account, Paypal account, or Venmo as often as you like. Though many players choose to keep their funds in their account to make further wagers. 

However, it’s important to note that you are required to complete a W-9. This is because the Seminole Tribe is required to report the details of any sports winnings to the IRS. 

What sports can I bet on using the app?

Most Tampa Bay Downs customers will have only been able to place bets on horse racing, poker, and golf in the past. As a result of the compact with the Seminole Tribe, you can now place bets on a far wider range of sports. Using the Hard Rock Sportsbook app, you can find wagers on NFL, NBA, NHL, MMA, UFC, NASCAR, NCAAF, NCAAB, MLK, among others. You’ll also have a choice of smaller leagues and even international sports games like the soccer World Cup. Wherever you are in Florida, you can find opportunities to place bets on a range of games.   

How long before a game does betting stay open for?

Sports betting online in Florida using the Hard Rock Sportsbook app doesn’t just end once the game begins. There are also options for live betting in some games. This is where you can make additional wagers throughout the game as the odds change with the gameplay. 

Are any fees deducted from my winnings or withdrawals?

You wouldn’t expect Tampa Bay Downs or any other in-person betting facility to take a percentage of your winnings when you try to withdraw them at the booth. Similarly, there are no withdrawal fees that Hard Rock Sportsbook applies directly to users of the app. However, it’s important to make note of whether your bank, Paypal, or Venmo charge fees for receiving funds or transferring them on to your chosen account.  

Can I get credit for referring new users?

There is no user referral scheme in place at present. However, there are frequent promotions that are updated daily on the Hard Rock Sportsbook app. There are also plans in place to introduce a loyalty program in the near future. Remember that your friends will also have the option of making a risk-free bet of up to $100 if they sign up now. 

If there’s anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to understand better, feel free to reach out to us here: 

flsupport@hardrockbet.com   

1-305-504-6802  

twiiter: @hardrockbet 

We hope this information has helped to answer some of your questions related to the status of mobile sports gambling in Florida. As with any new situation, there will be changes and new issues that arise, so we’ll be updating this section accordingly. In the meantime, there are exciting new opportunities to play wherever you happen to be in Florida. Sign up now and get a $100 risk free bet!

Hard Rock No Regret First Bet offer