Supreme Court Rules In Lawsuit; Sports Betting Could Resume In Florida

Written By Jason Jarrett on October 26, 2023 - Last Updated on October 27, 2023
Photo of a legal scale with state of Florida and sports betting logos on a story about a US Supreme Court ruling on a federal sports betting case.

The runway has been cleared.

With a U.S. Supreme Court’s decision late Wednesday, the Seminole Tribe has been given the green light to relaunch mobile sports betting in Florida any time it chooses.

Chief Justice John Roberts’ decision is the latest turn in a federal case that was filed by West Flagler and Associates against the U.S. Department of Interior in April 2021, challenging the legality of a gaming compact between the Seminoles and the state. WFA argues that it violates the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).

Later that year a federal judge agreed with WFA, nullifying the terms of the compact. In June of this year, a U.S. appeals court vacated that ruling. West Flagler was denied a rehearing in the case and then appealed to the Supreme Court to take up the case. In doing so, WFA also asked that sports betting remain offline until the court decides to take up the case.

So, when can sports betting resume in Florida?

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court denied the stay request, allowing the Seminoles to relaunch its Hard Rock Bet Florida app and begin accepting wagers. The tribe has yet to restart.

As to what the timing would be for a potential restart, the Seminoles wouldn’t comment on that when reached by PlayFL for comment. A spokesperson did send along a short statement to PlayFL in regards to the Supreme Court’s decision.

“The denial of the stay by the U.S. Supreme Court is very good news.” the statement said. “The Seminole Tribe of Florida is heartened by this decision.”

Details of the stay denial

In the denial for the stay of sports betting by West Flagler, justice Brett Kavanaugh offered some hope to West Flagler that the court may take up its case.

“If the compact authorized the Tribe to conduct off-reservation gaming operations, either directly or by deeming off-reservation gaming operations to somehow be on-reservation, then the compact would likely violate the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act,” Kavanaugh wrote in the court opinion.

Florida sports betting lawyer Daniel Wallach took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to explain that Kavanaugh may be laying the groundwork for the Supreme Court to take up its case.

Seminole casinos seek sports betting staff

As the Supreme Court mulls a decision whether to take up West Flagler’s request to review, the Seminoles continue to prepare for an impending relaunch. The tribe are hiring sportsbook staffs for their Hard Rock branded casinos and last week held a hiring event strictly for sportsbook agents.

There is no timeline for when the Supreme Court will make decision whether to take up the case or not.

The casinos are also seeking people to fill positions for craps and roulette games, two that haven’t been offered before in casinos. These games were also added to the 2021 state-Seminole compact.

State case ongoing

As Florida sports bettors await the decision by the Supreme Court, there’s more to be played out in West Flagler’s request to the Florida Supreme Court questioning the validity of the compact. West Flagler, along with Bonita-Fort Myers Corporation, filed a lawsuit, claiming that only voters can approve an expansion of gambling in the Sunshine State.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has a Dec. 1 deadline to respond to the lawsuit.

The main argument the filing makes is that the compact is in violation of the state constitution because, in 2018, Florida voters approved an amendment to it that says only voters can approve an expansion of gaming in the Sunshine State.

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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