The Seminole Tribe continues to make it clear who they want to be the next governor of Florida. They want to keep Gov. Ron DeSantis in office during this election season.
Earlier this month, the tribe donated another $1 million to the Friends of DeSantis political action committee. That matched the $1 million donated in August. The tribe gave $5 million directly and indirectly to the governor’s re-election efforts for the year.
Sports betting in good hands, regardless of the winner
Last year, DeSantis and the tribe agreed to a gaming compact that would’ve legalized sports betting in Florida. It also gave the tribe exclusive sports betting rights for 30 years. The compact, however, was nullified by a federal judge. The Seminoles and the US Department of Interior have appealed the ruling.
In the meantime, it makes sense that the tribe would continue to support a candidate who agreed to such a potentially lucrative opportunity. Although, the Democratic candidate, Florida Congressman Charlie Crist, also has a favorable history with the Seminoles.
Crist is seeking his second stint as governor, serving one term as a Republican from 2007-2011 before leaving the party and eventually taking a seat on the other side of the aisle. During his first term, he signed the current Seminole gaming compact bill, which gave the tribe sole rights to Las Vegas-style casino gaming in the state.
All things considered, DeSantis seems like the clear favorite to retain his spot in office, but the tribe will be in a win-win situation no matter who comes out on top.
Possible outcomes of the appeal
West Flagler Associates recently filed its 110-page answering brief against the DOI’s assertions of the compact’s wrongful nullification. The tribe and federal government were required to submit their opening briefs in August.
All parties must submit briefs by Nov. 14, with the tribe and government each set to submit reply briefs by that time. From there, oral arguments will be scheduled if the court deems them necessary. A final decision is expected in early 2023.
Should the tribe win its appeal, Florida could see online sports betting as soon as the decision is final. But it still wouldn’t be out of the woods. Despite failing to make it onto the ballot this year, DraftKings and FanDuel will take another shot at ballot initiative efforts in 2024. If voters favor their proposal, Floridians will likely have multiple sports betting options come 2025.
Tribe receives hurricane relief and aid for opioid crisis
On Oct. 1, President Joe Biden declared the aftermath of Hurricane Ian as a major disaster for the Seminole Tribe of Florida and ordered federal aid to help with the tribe’s rebuilding efforts.
Members of the tribe and its associated lands are eligible to receive funding in the form of grants for temporary housing, loans to cover uninsured property losses and further programs to help businesses and other affected individuals.
The tribe also received a $500,000 grant to fight opioid addiction, separate from a $101.3 million federal grant to the state. The grant will go toward the treatment of substance abuse disorders, increased access to opioid test strips and other treatments such as naloxone, and expanding other opioid treatment programs.