Florida Sports Betting Case Now On US Supreme Court’s Docket

Written By Cheryl Coward on February 14, 2024 - Last Updated on February 15, 2024
A picture of the U.S. Supreme Court

The legal fight against the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s ability to offer sports betting in the state has taken a new turn. A lawsuit initiated against the tribe by pari-mutuel operators entered the docket of the US Supreme Court this week.

Even so, some experts give the challenge from West Flagler Associates Ltd. and Bonita-Fort Myers Corp. a slim chance of overturning the sports betting compact between the tribe and the state.

Sports betting is legal in Florida for now

For now, Florida sports betting remains legal. It became legal for a brief time in late 2021 after the Seminole Tribe and the state signed the Florida Gaming Compact. It gave the tribe total control over sports betting. For a few weeks, the Seminole’s Hard Rock mobile sportsbook took wagers in the state. A federal judge’s ruling against the tribe on Nov. 21, 2021, halted sports betting in Florida until recently.

The tribe appealed the ruling, and last June, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the 2021 decision against the Seminoles. Sports betting resumed in December 2023.

Nevertheless, West Flagler kept up the fight, arguing that the 2021 compact is “a backdoor around state constitutional prohibitions against online sports gambling conducted off tribal lands” and creates a “statewide monopoly over sports betting.”

In the petition filed with the US Supreme Court, West Flagler attorneys assert that the case holds “massive importance for the future of online gaming across the country – and can only be conclusively resolved by this Court.”

The pari-mutuel operators also want the case to be an example for other jurisdictions to follow.

“As different jurisdictions make different decisions regarding the legality of sports betting, it is critical that this Court not allow the unlawful approach taken by Florida to become a model, or for the D.C. Circuit decision to create confusing and misleading precedent.”

Does the lawsuit stand a chance?

Bob Jarvis, a law professor at Nova Southeastern University, told PlayFL he predicts that the High Court will not overturn the June decision.

“The case presents no issue of interest to the Court. There is no national need for a ruling by the Court. And the Court, if it were to take this case, would simply affirm the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.”

Photo by AP Photo / Jose Luis Magana
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Cheryl Coward

Cheryl Coward is a writer for PlayFL with a background in sports journalism. She started her career as a news reporter in Washington, D.C. She's a die-hard women's basketball fanatic and founded the website Hoopfeed.com as a result of that passion.

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