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SCOTUS Puts Sports Betting on Hold in Florida for Now

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood Florida
Image showing the entrance to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP

Chief Justice John Roberts issued a stay after the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the compact between the Seminole tribe and the state of Florida was legal. Therefore, sports betting in the Sunshine State will be at least temporarily delayed until the Supreme Court of the United States can make a final determination.

Verdict Overturned

The parimutuel betting companies, West Flagler Associates (WFA) and Bonita-Fort Myers Corp., want a piece of the mobile sports betting pie in Florida and have made every legal attempt to derail the tribal nations’ efforts to be Florida’s biggest, and only, bookie.

The legal wrangling began back in 2021 and it continues to this very day. The Seminole Tribe received the good news they were hoping for in June, when a DC Circuit US Court of Appeals overturned a previous District Court ruling, reaffirming the compact between the tribe and state.

It was a deal in which the Seminoles agreed to pay as much as $20 billion to Florida over the next 30 years. But West Flagler Associates would not go down that easy and its attorneys asked the DC Circuit Court if they would at least stay their order until the Supreme Court could determine whether it would hear the case.

West Flagler attorneys argued the stay would be the most prudent course until the SCOTUS determines whether the case will be heard and said, “The Circuit Opinion enables a dramatic change in public policy on legalizing gaming that, once started, may be difficult to stop. It is in the public interest to preserve the status quo with respect to online gaming until such time as this Court as a chance to review Applicants’ petition for a writ of certiorari.”

West Flager Wins Latest Legal Round

That request was denied on October 6th, but West Flagler then filed an emergency petition with the Supreme Court of the United States on the same day. And in a promising sign for the plaintiffs, Justice Roberts issued the stay and a response must be submitted by October 18th.

In part, the request for a stay said the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) does not allow the Secretary of the Interior to approve a compact that allows gambling off tribal lands.

The West Flagler Associates lawyers said, “The circuit (appeals court) opinion raises a question of nationwide importance regarding the ability of states and tribes to use IGRA compacts to provide for gaming off Indian lands,” the request said.

The request went on to say, “Absent a stay, the compact will give rise to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of sports betting transactions that violate both state and federal law before this (Supreme) Court has the opportunity to address the merits. The circuit opinion enables a dramatic change in public policy on legalized gaming that, once started, may be difficult to stop.”

Sports and gaming attorney Daniel Wallach said before Justice Roberts granted the temporary stay that getting to that point would be a good omen for WFA.

“If you get it, that could be an indicator that the court is inclined to grant cert (writ of certiorari),” Wallach said. “But if the application is denied, that could become the ultimate buzzkill for West Flagler. The court could take a dim view of the merits, which would potentially telegraph that a petition for cert is unlikely to be granted.”

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