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The Florida Sports Betting Quagmire as Seminoles Join in Legal Action

Written by:
Gilbert Horowitz
Published on:
Sep/02/2021

As was to be expected, legal obstacles now stand in the way of sports betting rolling in out in the Sunshine State.

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Where We Stand

US federal officials approved a deal early in August that will allow the Seminole Tribe to operate sports betting and add roulette and craps to its seven Florida casinos.

The Seminoles represent what is a near monopoly in the state's gambling sector, however, there are other players in Florida who see the tribe as receiving favoritism.

Gov. Ron DeSantis had worked out the gambling compact with the tribe this past spring, and it was later approved by the Republican-controlled Florida House and Senate. The deal needed final approved from the U.S. Department of the Interior, which oversees tribal gambling operations.

“The final approval of this historic gaming compact is a big deal for the State of Florida,” DeSantis said in a statement. “This mutually-beneficial agreement will grow our economy, expand tourism and recreation and provide billions in new revenue to benefit Floridians.”

What Now

  • On Tuesday, the Seminole Tribe of Florida filed documents in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., to intervene in a lawsuit filed Aug. 16 by Florida pari-mutuel facilities against the U.S. Department of Interior’s decision to approve the tribe’s new, 30-year, multibillion-dollar gambling compact with the State of Florida.
  • The lawsuit does appear to focus on the Seminoles ability to offer mobile sports betting away from tribal lands.
  • The Seminoles have argue that actual bets will take place on servers hosted on tribal lands.
  • A 1998 federal case against offshore sportsbooks operating in the Caribbean island nation of Antigua found that online bets were placed on US soil, not on the servers housed in Antigua.
  • The federal case in Washington was brought by Magic City Casino and Bonita Springs Poker Room, both being pari-mutuel facilities affiliated with West Flagler Associates.
  • Those parties also filed a case in U.S. District Court in Tallahassee on July 2 against Gov. Ron DeSantis and Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Julie Imanuel Brown.
  • The Seminoles also argue that they enjoy sovereign immunity, which means that they cannot be sued unless they agree to be sued, at least in theory.
  • Sports betting at Seminole casinos could occur as soon as October but mobile wagering will have to wait.

- Gilbert Horowitz, Gambling911.com

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