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Associated Press

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — The Seminole Tribe of Florida shut down its online sports betting app Saturday after being dealt its latest legal defeat in a case that has halted a massive expansion of gambling throughout Florida.

The tribe said it will temporarily stop taking bets on its Hard Rock Sportsbook app in response to a federal appeals court decision rejecting its request to allow wagering to continue as it pursues an appeal.

The Friday ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit follows a lower court’s decision to block an agreement between Florida and the Seminoles to allow online sports betting because it violates a federal rule requiring a person to be physically on tribal land when wagering. The lawsuit, which was filed by non-Indian casino owners in Florida, challenged the approval of the deal by the U.S. Department of the Interior, which oversees tribal gambling operations.

(Previous: Judge blocks Seminole, Florida online sports betting deal)

The suspension of the betting app comes just over a month after it started accepting wagers, with it now displaying a message to customers that it will temporarily suspend operations in Florida. A spokesperson for the tribe said account balances will be refunded as requested and that it looks forward to defending the validity of their agreement with the state in court.

"Despite the decision, the Seminole Tribe looks forward to working with the State of Florida and the U.S. Department of Justice to aggressively defend the validity of the 2021 Compact before the Appeals Court, which has yet to rule on the merits of the 2021 Compact," Gary Bitner, a Seminole tribe spokesperson, said in a statement. 

The agreement had made Florida the latest state to legalize sports gambling since a 2018 Supreme Court ruling. About half the states and the District of Columbia have legalized betting on sports in some form.

The lower court’s decision, which came late last month, also blocks the tribe from adding roulette and craps to its Florida casinos.

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had worked out the compact with the tribe earlier this year and the state was poised to receive $20 billion over the next 30 years.

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