Gov. Ron DeSantis, Federal Government Latest To File In 2 Sports Betting Cases

Written By Jason Jarrett on October 20, 2023 - Last Updated on October 27, 2023
Photo of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on a story about the state of Florida filing a delay in a state supreme court sports betting case.

Update to original story: On Oct. 20, the Florida Supreme Court granted the state of Florida’s wishes for a 30-day extension in filing a response to the state lawsuit. The new deadline is Dec. 1.

Enter the federal government and Gov. Ron DeSantis as the latest two characters to reappear in the just released chapter of the ever-unfolding sports betting novel being written in Florida.

As two Florida sports betting court cases travel different paths through state and federal courts, the US Department of Interior and the state’s top legal official both filed legal paperwork in their respective cases late this week.

What’s the latest in the two court cases?

Department of Interior officials formally responded to West Flagler and Associates’ stay request in its case versus the federal government to toss out the state’s gaming compact with The Seminole Tribe that was approved in 2021.

As the plaintiff in its case, West Flagler has argued for two years that the compact violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). A federal judge ruled for West Flagler in 2021. That decision took sports betting offline in November 2021. In June, a federal appeals court vacated that ruling, giving the Seminoles the green light to start accepting bets again.

West Flagler has appealed the June ruling to the US Supreme Court and requested that mobile sports wagering remain offline until the Supreme Court makes a ruling on whether it will take up the case. Last week, SCOTUS Chief Justice John Roberts granted the request temporarily to allow for a full briefing before him or the full court.

The DOI had until this week to respond to the stay, and in its filing late Wednesday spelled out why West Flagler’s request should be denied. In their 30-page filing, federal officials argue the court wouldn’t take up the case because the compact is consistent with IGRA and the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA).

Most importantly, the DOI argues West Flagler fail to demonstrate irreparable harm or equities warranting relief from the court if the Seminole Tribe relaunches its Hard Rock Bet Florida app.

Gov. DeSantis requests an extension for state court response

On Thursday, Florida attorney general Ashley Moody requested an extension to respond in a state Supreme Court case involving Gov. DeSantis and the Florida Legislature and a pair of South Florida parimutuels.

DeSantis has a court-ordered deadline of Nov. 1 in the case that questions the validity of the state-Seminole Tribe gaming compact that was signed in 2021.The AG is requesting a 30-day extension due to the governor’s “heavy workload.”

West Flagler, along with Bonita-Fort Myers Corporation, filed a lawsuit with the Florida Supreme Court at the end of September in an effort to block the compact. They claim that only voters can approve an expansion of gambling in the Sunshine State.


West Flagler responds to AG request for extension

A day after the Florida AG requested an extension in a response in the state case, West Flagler Associates dropped an eight-page opposition to the 30-day delay request.

One of the arguments this filing makes is the “people who adopted Amendment 3 creating Art. X, Sec. 30 of the Florida constitution are entitled to have their will enforced.”

Amendment 3, which voters approved in 2018, created Art. X, Sec. 30 that states only voters can approve an expansion of gaming in the Sunshine State.

West Flagler is requesting only a seven-day delay for DeSantis.






Photo by Andy Barron/AP
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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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