Two More Legal Moves In Florida. What Do They Mean For Sports Betting’s Return?

Written By Jason Jarrett on October 17, 2023 - Last Updated on October 19, 2023
Photo of sports balls, money and logos of Florida and a gavel on a story about legal filings in the state's sports betting cases.

Another day in Florida, another day of multiple news items on the sports betting front.

On Tuesday, No Casinos, one of the state’s biggest opponents of expanded gambling in the state, filed an amicus brief with the state Supreme Court in support of West Flagler and Associates’ filing with the court that the gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe violates the state’s constitution.

No Casinos’ brief is similar to the group’s argument in 2021 before the compact was signed by the Florida Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis. At that time, John Sowinski, president of No Casinos, asserted to lawmakers that the compact would face a legal challenge under Amendment 3, an addition to the constitution that states that any gambling expansion in Florida must be approved by the voters.

Also on Tuesday, the Seminole Tribe advised the US Supreme Court that it will not be filing a response to West Flagler’s application for a stay of an appeals court mandate that sports betting in Florida can restart. The letter from the Seminoles is the latest legal move in a separate lawsuit that has been making its way through the federal courts since 2021.

Do these filings prolong the wait for Florida sports betting?

While both filings add to the paperwork both cases continue to collect, neither move on Tuesday will affect the timeline of the potential return of sports betting in Florida. The Seminoles’ Hard Rock Bet Florida app was open for business for a couple of months before it was taken offline by a court decision in November 2021.

In June, a federal appeals court vacated that decision, essentially giving the Seminoles the green light to start accepting bets. West Flagler asked for a rehearing in the case but were denied. This month, the plaintiff formally appealed the ruling to the US Supreme Court and asked for a stay to keep betting offline. Chief Justice John Roberts granted the request temporarily.

In Tuesday’s note to SCOTUS by the Seminoles, the tribe explained it wouldn’t respond since it’s not a party to the lawsuit. West Flagler’s federal case is against the Department of Interior and its decision to OK the compact, saying it didn’t violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). The Department of the Interior has until Wednesday to respond to the request for a stay.

No Casinos’ talking points echo 2021

No Casinos’ 33-page brief outlines much of what the organization said during the 2021 legislative session when the compact was sealed.

In the brief, the group argues that “sports betting is within the definition of casino gambling in article X (Amendment 3), section 30, Florida Constitution” and that mobile sports betting located anywhere in Florida “violates the text, spirit, and public policy” of article X.

Crafters of the Seminole-state compact called the addition of mobile sports betting in the state a ‘hub-and-spoke’ model. This argues that any bets placed on mobile apps in the state would be legal since the server that would handle that transaction wouldn’t be on state land, it would be on Native American-owned land.

Photo by Shutterstock / Illustration by PlayFL
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Jason Jarrett

Jason is the managing editor and eight other states' websites, covering sports betting and gambling in the two states. He has more than 25 years of journalism experience, spending nearly 10 years as a senior editor at the Austin American-Statesman.

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