A recent court filing laid out a more concrete timeline in the appeals case surrounding the Florida gaming compact.
According to the filing, all briefs will be submitted by Nov. 14. It also states that there will be oral arguments and a merits panel that will come after that.
The schedule basically ensures that there will be no decision on sports betting this year. As a result, early 2023 is the best-case scenario for a ruling.
If the ruling overturns the previous decision from the District Court, the compact will become law of the land again. As a result, the Seminole Tribe will likely immediately re-launch their online sportsbook.
Detailed briefing schedule
|Party||Briefing Type||Due Date|
|Seminole Tribe||Opening Brief (not to exceed 10,000 words)||August 17, 2022|
|Federal Government||Opening Brief (not to exceed 10,000 words)||August 17, 2022|
|Federal Government||Appendix||August 17, 2022|
|Federal Government||Answering Brief (not to exceed 7,500 words)||October 3, 2022|
|West Flagler Associates||Answering Brief (not to exceed 15,000 words)||October 6, 2022|
|West Flagler Associates||Amicus Brief (not to exceed 6,500 words)||October 13, 2022|
|Seminole Tribe||Reply Brief (not to exceed 5,000 words)||November 14, 2022|
|Federal Government||Reply Brief (not to exceed 5,000 words)||November 14, 2022|
Changes from the last filing
The last court filing was released at the end of June. The new filing alters the amount of time allowed between parties submitting briefs. However, it should be noted that those were filed by the lawyers. This filing is an order from the court.
Initially, the Seminole Tribe would get 40 days from the release of the filing to submit its opening brief. The Department of the Interior would have 47 days after the tribe filed to submit their opening brief. Now, both of those briefs are due on the same day.
Additionally, the court reduced the max word count for all briefs. The first document stated both the tribe and the government will have up to 13,000 words for their opening briefs.
The finalized scheduling reduced that word count to 10,000. It also reduced West Flagler’s word count from 19,500 to 15,000.
Parties will spell out all of the issues and arguments in the opening briefs. The document states the court won’t consider any arguments raised for the first time in the reply briefs. The filing also suggested that legal teams drop off the paperwork in person on the due date. The move prevents a delay in shipping from backlogging the process.
Differences in arguments between the Seminoles, the Feds and West Flagler
Despite both the Seminoles and the federal government fighting for the same outcome, they are making two different arguments. In fact, the tribe isn’t actually a part of the suit. Currently, the suit only lists the DOI as a defendant.
But the Seminole legal team is arguing they should be a defendant in the case. The District Court denied the tribe’s motion to intervene for the limited purpose of filing a motion to dismiss. But the Seminoles claim Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 19 allows them to file for it.
The rule ensures that all parties with an interest in the action are joined in the litigation.
But the government doesn’t believe Rule 19 applies. The DOI even stated they don’t believe the tribe is a “required and indispensable party within the meaning of Rule 19.”
West Flagler Associates is the corporate entity for the ownership group of a pair of Florida pari-mutuels looking to keep the Florida gaming compact illegal.
The Havenick family, who owns Magic City Casino and Bonita Springs Poker Room, filed federal and state-level lawsuits over the new agreement between the Tribe and the state last year. They argued that the compact violated federal law and damaged their business.
A Florida judge tossed the state-level suit out of court. But Judge Dabney Friedrich ruled the model used for sports betting violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Her ruling put a stop to sports betting in Florida.
How we got to this point
- April 2021 – Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe agree to a new gaming compact that would legalize sports betting and expand gaming options at both Seminole-owned casinos and pari-mutuel facilities.
- May 2021 – In a special session, the Florida legislature passes the compact by a 97-17 margin.
- July 2021 – West Flagler Associates, files a state-level lawsuit over the compact. It argues that the ‘hub-and-spoke’ model violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
- August 2021 – The Bureau of Indian Affairs, part of the DOI, gives tacit approval to the compact after Haaland chooses to let the 45-day window expire, effectively legalizing the compact.
- August 2021 – West Flagler Associates files a nearly identical lawsuit at the federal level.
- October 2021 – Judge Allen Winsor dismisses the state-level lawsuit filed by West Flagler.
- November 2021 – The Seminole Tribe launches Hard Rock Sportsbook at the start of the month. It’s the first legal online sportsbook in Florida. Brick-and-mortar sportsbooks are legal as well.
- November 2021 – About three weeks after the tribe launches its online sportsbook, U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich rules in favor of West Flagler. She says that the ‘hub-and-spoke’ model did indeed violate the IGRA. The appeals process begins shortly after the ruling.
- December 2021 – The Seminole Tribe shuts down its online sportsbook. The move comes after a judge denies a motion to stay. The stay would’ve allowed them to continue operating the sportsbook during the appeals process.