Legal Analyst: FL Sports Betting Case Might Not Be Solved Until 2025

Written By C.J. Pierre on January 10, 2024 - Last Updated on January 11, 2024
A picture of a 2025 calendar with a US Supreme Court logo for a story about the possible date for a final decision on the ongoing FL sports betting court case.

For nearly two months, Floridians have been able to bet on sports legally.

However, it feels like it will be taken away from the masses at any moment. Because technically, it could be.

The Seminole Tribe won a lengthy legal battle against West Flagler Associates, the ownership group of a Florida pari-mutuel, to reinstate the 2021 Florida gaming compact.

As a result, Florida sports betting returned, and the tribe brought craps and roulette to their Florida casinos in December.

West Flagler appealed the ruling, which could jeopardize the future of Florida’s current gambling landscape. During a gaming conference last week, a legal analyst said there might not be a concrete ruling until 2025.

US Supreme Court could hear FL sports betting case this spring

Indian Gaming legal analyst Joe Webster has worked with the Seminole Tribe for years. He was instrumental in the efforts to bring sports betting to Florida.

He recently spoke about the legal battles Florida sports wagering faces at The National Council of Legislators from Gaming States.

Webster said the U.S. Supreme Court could decide to hear arguments on this latest case in the Spring. However, Webster says it wouldn’t be until 2025 before the Supreme Court Justices decide on that case.

State-level decision would come first

But before the nation’s highest court makes a ruling, judges at the state level would make a decision.

Justices at the Florida Supreme Court are mulling over whether to weigh on West Flagler’s claim that the expansion violated the state constitution. A 2018 ballot initiative backed by the Seminole Tribe, Amendment 3, made it illegal for gambling expansion without voter approval first.

Gov. DeSantis and tribe optimistic about chances

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe have expressed optimism that they would win any case, even at the US Supreme Court. One legal analyst says that if SCOTUS  were to take another look at Florida sports betting, it would be a while before a decision is rendered.

The pending state court case is the first hurdle to clear. West Flagler wants the Florida Supreme Court to halt Florida sports betting until a decision is made.

West Flagler says justices should step in to “vindicate the People’s exclusive right to control the expansion of casino gambling in Florida.”

However, Webster noted in a court brief that the Seminole Tribe argues that West Flagler’s request should be denied, saying it is “untimely, unwarranted, and impermissible.”

The federal court battle could drag on for months before reaching the US Supreme Court.

Hard Rock online sportsbook continues taking bets

While an outright win would’ve been the tribe’s preferred outcome, a lengthy court battle isn’t the worst news for the Seminole Tribe. Since they are already operational, they can continue accepting wagers until a decision is made.

Hard Rock Bet Sportsbook Florida relaunched in November 2023. The Seminole Tribe’s monopoly on the Florida online sports betting industry was solidified with the state’s only online sports betting site.

The tribe also added several gaming options — retail sports betting, craps and roulette — to its Florida casinos in December.

It will be a long process before there is a possibility that Hard Rock Bet gets shut down in Florida. The state’s Supreme Court has multiple options regarding the West Flagler case. It could grant the request or deny it.

However, two other options avoid an immediate decision. The court could transfer the case to a circuit court or hear oral arguments first.

The court’s decision hinges on how timely justices perceive the issue to be. West Flagler has said that if the group doesn’t receive a favorable ruling from Florida’s top court, it plans to appeal to the US Supreme Court in 2024.

Given Webster’s estimate on a decision from the Supreme Court, Florida bettors will have at least all of this year to wager on sports.

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C.J. Pierre

C.J. Pierre is a Lead Writer at PlayFL. He has been covering news and sports for over a decade for both online and TV broadcasts. He was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN and is an alum of Minnesota State University: Moorhead. He recently dove into tribal casino, sports betting and online gambling news. He also covered the launch of sports betting in Arizona. C.J. has experience as a reporter and videographer and has covered high school, college and professional sports throughout his career, most notably following Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Vikings and North Dakota State University football.

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