Whether or not legal and regulated sports betting will be returning to the Sunshine State would appear to be in the hands of a Federal Appellate Court in Florida.
A three-judge panel sitting on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, Florida Circuit is currently hearing arguments from lawyers for the U.S. Department of Interior, the State of Florida, the Seminole Tribe and the anti sports betting plaintiffs, according to the Miami Herald.
The issue is concerning whether US Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland overstepped her authority under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) last year when she was allowing a gambling act hammered out between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe of Florida to go into effect.
This 30-year agreement, which was approved by the Florida Legislature, saw the Seminoles agreeing to pay the state at least $2.5 billion over the first five years of the deal in exchange for having control over sports betting in the state and for being allowed to be adding roulette and craps to offer at the tribe’s casino operations.
However, a constitutional amendment prohibits any expansion of gambling outside of tribal land within the state without first gaining voter approval. Under the agreement between DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe, all online sports betting would be moving throughout the state with the hub of the service being located on tribal land.
This move was viewed by the plaintiffs as a getaround to avoid putting the inclusion of sports betting in Florida to a popular vote. They argued that locating the hub on tribal land was utilizing federal Indian law to circumvent state laws.
The plaintiffs include West Flagler Associates, the owners of Magic City Casino and Bonita Springs Poker Room. Others also filing suit against the gaming compact include such as the No Casinos movement, a group of Miami businessmen and gambling opponents, including Armando Codina and Norman Braman.
In November of 2021, Judge Dabney L. Friedrich of the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia agreed with the plaintiffs, declaring the deal invalid.
If the appeal is lost, it could be years before legal and regulated sports betting is returning to Florida.
Photo by Jannes Glas on Unsplash.