The Miami Dolphins are currently 25-to-1 favorites to win the 2024 Super Bowl this upcoming season. The odds that Florida residents will be able to make that bet in-state before the NFL campaign kicks off could be even longer.
Friday’s decision by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals to vacate a District Court’s ruling triggered questions by Florida sports betting fans, and the belief that wagering on the Seminole Tribe’s short-lived Hard Rock Bet app would start soon.
Not so fast, says Florida sports betting lawyer Daniel Wallach.
“Best-case scenario is you’re looking at late this year,” Wallach told PlayFL.
Background on the sports betting drama in Florida
In May 2021, the state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe agreed on a new gaming compact that allowed mobile sports betting. Later that year West Flagler Associates, which operated two casinos in the state at the time, and other gaming properties sued the US Department of Interior, and won its case when the US Ninth Circuit Court ruled the compact illegal.
That ruling was vacated Friday.
With the Court of Appeals’ ruling on Friday, the terms of the deal are put back into place. Potentially generating up $2.5 billion over the lifetime of the 30-year agreement between the tribe and state officials, the compact would allow Seminole-run casinos in Florida to offer craps and roulette for the first time.
Important to note: Retail pari-mutuels could also allow patrons to bet on sporting events with a revenue share with the tribe.
Appeal in sports betting case essential for ‘economic survival’
Mobile sports betting later this year could be a possibility if the plaintiffs don’t file for a rehearing or appeal the case to a higher court. But that seems unlikely, according to Wallach.
“I think that (the plaintiffs) are going to seek immediate judicial review,” Wallach said.
Wallach believes an eventual filing is essential to their operations’ “economic survival.”
“If they cede the state of Florida to the Seminole Tribe for online sports betting, iGaming is going to be next,” Wallach said. “One of the down-the-road impacts of this ruling is that it would pave the way for iGaming to be included in another amendment to the compact.
“If the land-based operators lose iGaming and online sports betting and watch the tribe monopolize that activity, as tough as things are now for them, it places their survival in question.”
If the plaintiffs petition the US Supreme Court to review the case, Wallach believes the split of the decision between the DC Circuit Court and the Ninth Circuit Court would cause the Supreme Court to take it up.
“With the likelihood of Supreme Court petitions being filed, this could very well carry into 2024, early 2025,” he said.
The knock-on effect on other states’ sports gambling efforts
Both Wallach and another Florida gambling law expert believe Friday’s ruling will resonate throughout the country.
“Tribes all over the country now will run to their state counterparts and ask for mobile gambling,” said Bob Jarvis, a law professor at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale.
Wallach said the 2021 gaming compact will serve as a template for tribes in other states as a pathway for mobile sports betting.
“This will be what the California tribes want … and what the Minnesota tribes want, which is exclusivity,” Wallach said. “This ruling will embolden tribes to use IGRA (Indian Gaming Regulatory Act) in the contracting process.”
Sports betting is currently not legal in California and Minnesota.
Related 2021 gaming compact stories
- Gov. Ron DeSantis signs tribal compact that includes online sports wagering (April 2021)
- Florida Legislature ratifies compact including sports betting (May 2021)
- Florida pari-mutuel companies sue to block compact (August 2021)
- Federal ruling stops sports betting in Florida (Nov 2021)
- Parties make final pleas in appeal to DC Court of Appeals (January 2023)
- Florida sports betting case could reshape tribal gaming across US (June 2023)
- Court Of Appeals Ruling Upholds Florida-Seminole Gaming Compact; Sports Betting Could Restart (June 2023)