Latest Sports Betting Challenge Stopped By Florida Supreme Court

Written By Cole Rush on March 23, 2024
A picture of the Florida Supreme Court.

The Seminole Tribe’s monopoly on the Sunshine State’s sports betting market remains intact. Well, at least for the time being.

The Florida Supreme Court denied an appeal by the ownership group of two Florida pari-mutuels to overturn the 2021 Florida gaming compact. Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe agreed to the deal nearly three years ago.

How the legal battle began

As a result, the state’s gambling industry expanded to allow for certain Class III games at Seminole-owned casinos and legalized Florida sports betting. However, the sports betting model drew ire from West Flagler Associates. 

West Flagler Associates owns Bonita Springs Poker Room and formerly owned Magic City Casino in Miami. The group filed federal and state-level lawsuits over the sports betting agreement.

Under the “hub-and-spoke” model, the state gave the Seminoles exclusivity over the online sports betting market. Furthermore, the state mandated that any pari-mutuel facility desiring to operate a brick-and-mortar sportsbook must do so as a vendor of the Seminole Tribe.

Courts struck down the state-level lawsuits. But in November 2021, a federal judge agreed with West Flagler. Therefore, the compact was invalid, and the Seminoles could no longer offer sports betting.

But last summer, the DC Court of Appeals overturned the District Court’s ruling, and the Seminoles went back into business.

West Flagler filed the wrong paperwork, according to court

Florida’s Supreme Court denied the appeal because they filed the “wrong type of petition to challenge the compact,” according to a report from the Associated Press.

It’s not the end, though. The challengers are also taking the issue to federal court and petitioning the US Supreme Court.

West Flagler might take another chance with the state’s highest court. Despite the ruling, West Flagler can still request a rehearing with the court.

A Glimpse At The Opposition

The groups challenging Florida’s sports betting agreement aren’t against the state operating online gambling at all.

In fact, they’re all for it. The issue stems from the exact terms of Florida’s agreement with the Seminole Tribe, which they say gives the tribe a virtual monopoly on the state’s betting market.

In other words, only oppose the compact because they can’t operate a sportsbook themselves.

Photo by AP Photo / Brendan Farrington
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