Opponents of Florida Sports Betting Tribe Seek Extension in U.S. Supreme Court


Posted on: November 21, 2023, 10:49h. 

Last updated on: November 21, 2023, 10:49h.

The companies trying to overturn the Seminole Tribe’s sports betting monopoly in Florida want to seek resolution of their federal case next year. This move allows time for a state proceeding to conclude before they appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court building in Washington, DC. A new filing asks the court for more time to seek resolution of a long-running case over Florida sports betting.

They need until February 9 to file a writ of certiorari. This document will ask the Supreme Court to overturn the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’s decision endorsing the tribe’s gaming compact. This was revealed in a filing submitted Monday by West Flagler Associates and Bonita-Fort Myers Corp. These Florida pari-mutuel operators are challenging the tribe’s gaming compact.

The companies say the delay is required to give the Florida Supreme Court time to rule on a separate challenge asking to invalidate the executive and legislative approval of the compact in 2021. The compact allows the Seminole Tribe to expand its games and offer online sports betting through Hard Rock Bets. West Flagler argues that this violates the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and Florida constitution.

“This fiction was adopted to deem the Compact to be solely dealing with gaming on Indian lands, and thereby to circumvent a Florida constitutional ban on the expansion of casino gaming absent a citizens’ referendum, except for casino gaming covered by a valid IGRA compact for gaming ‘on tribal lands,’” West Flagler’s lawyers wrote in the request for a time extension Tuesday.

Sportsbook Online With SCOTUS Stay Gone

Two weeks after Chief Justice John Roberts issued a stay preventing the compact from taking effect, it was lifted. This changes the expectations for West Flagler and Bonita-Fort Myers, who said they would file their full writ of certiorari by November 20.

Since the stay was lifted, the Seminole Tribe has reactivated the Hard Rock Bets platform in Florida, and the Florida Supreme Court has denied expedited proceedings. Governor Ron DeSantis must file a response by December 1 in the state case. This is because the outcome will influence how opponents present their case to the high court.

West Flagler owns the Bonita Springs Poker Room in southwest Florida and previously owned the Magic City Casino in Miami.

‘Absurd Trap’ Possible Without Delay

Federal court decisions have been narrow, holding that the Interior Department only has the authority to approve activities happening on tribal lands. This brings into question whether the tribe’s operation of a mobile sportsbook complies with state law. If the Supreme Court does not grant the companies’ request, they will have to file a cert petition by December 11, 90 days after their D.C. Circuit rehearing request was denied.

“The Florida Supreme Court’s resolution of the State Petition may be relevant to whether the reasoning of the Circuit Opinion is accepted, or whether instead the Applicants are caught in an absurd trap between two judicial systems saying inconsistent things about the nature of this Compact,” according to West Flagler’s latest filing.

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