Another Win for Seminoles in Florida Sports Betting

The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Zak Bennett /AFP

The legal hurdles for the Seminole tribe have been numerous since signing their gaming compact with Florida governor Ron DeSantis. Since then, they have cleared a few of those hurdles with another win coming this week when federal attorneys filed a brief in their defense.

As has been the case with other legal battles, the plaintiffs were claiming that the compact violates the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

Seminole Tribe Clear Another Legal Hurdle

There was a deadline this past Tuesday for the brief filed by federal attorneys which defended the Florida Seminole Tribe compact. With this news, it appears that Florida online sports betting’s fate is in the hands of U.S District Court Judge Dabney L. Friedrich. She said she will likely make her judgment on November 15th. In the meantime, Florida online sports betting will be allowed to continue.

This is obviously huge for both the Seminole Tribe and those who are in opposition. The Seminoles have a 30-year gaming compact which grants them exclusive rights to online sports betting. The system has a unique name referred to as a “hub and spoke” system by which the servers must be on tribal land. That would in essence give them a monopoly on online gaming in the state.

This came at a hefty price as you would imagine and the tribe agreed to pay at least $2.5 billion dollars over the first five years. The gaming compacts also included expanded gaming rights for the tribe in what is sure to be a lucrative deal should the ruling go in their favor.

Plaintiffs Concerned Over Tribal Monopoly

According to the compact, the Seminole Tribe can have up to seven brick and mortar sportsbooks. Via their Hard Rock platform, they will be allowed to offer digital betting options. The issue for the plaintiffs in this and other lawsuits brought forward against the tribe is that they get a piece of all of the action.

They get a cut of retail and online wagers made through pari-mutuels. There are five that have already made a deal with the Seminoles. In return, they will give up 40% of their gross gaming revenue to the tribe. This lawsuit is between two pari-mutuels who are going up against the state and the U.S Department of the Interior (DOI). The DOI is the one responsible for approving the compact.

They argue that the compact is not in violation of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) which is the basis of the lawsuit. The IGRA was established in 1988 to allow tribes that are recognized by the federal government to offer gaming. There’s also something called Amendment 3 which was passed back in 2018. It requires that an expansion of gaming must be the decision of voters.

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