Sports Betting On the Verge of Coming to Florida

By: Emily Mclaughlin

Sports betting is potentially resuming in Florida after the Court of Appeal favored the Seminole Tribe on June 30, 2023. 

The history of this, back in 2021, started when Governor Ron DeSantis signed with the Seminoles a new compact, also known as a deal, allowing for statewide mobile wagering to Florida. In May 2021, the State legislature agreed to the contract, and the US Department of Interior allowed this, legalizing Florida sports betting in the Federal Register in August. 

It has been reported by CBS News that “a three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in June overturned U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich’s decision and gave a go-ahead to the sports-betting plan.” 

Filing the lawsuit in 2021, South Florida casino owners challenged the Seminoles gambling court, leading to Hard Rock knocking down online betting within 34 days. In the gaming agreement, the tribe must pay $2.5 billion to the state every five years with the addition of possibly billions of more dollars throughout the following years.

Two pari-mutuel companies asked the Florida Supreme Court to abolish the multibillion-dollar deal. Remember that if the Seminole Tribe continued this deal, it would give them the power of sports betting throughout the state.

The two pari-mutuel companies were West Flagler Associates and Bonit-Fort Myers Corporation, which also does business as Bonita Springs Poker Room in Southwest Florida, claiming the deal raised conflict with a 2018 constitutional amendment. The amendment broken was required voter approval for the expansion of casino-style gambling. 

Continuing with their claims, they also argued that the legislature enacted the “Implementing Law,” which hammered out the debate with Florida’s ban on sports wagering. West Flager said, “This amendment requires a vote by citizens’ initiative under article XI, section 3, for casino gambling to be authorized under Florida law. This section amends this article and also affects Article XI by making citizens’ initiatives the exclusive method of authorizing casino gambling,” (IGB).

West Flagler explained that DeSantis’s expansion on casino gambling in Florida counted as violating Article X section 30. The misuse of authority warrants the review and correction process of Florida law. 

Filing the petition at the State’s Supreme Court said that the “D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals could rule at any time on whether to extend the freeze on regulated Florida sports betting,” (LSR).

This is another obstacle the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Hard Rock Bet must manage in hopes of relaunching the app and continuing with bets. But with this continued back and forth, betting will take even longer to regulate in Florida. 
Daniel Wallach, a teacher of sports betting and regulation at the University of Miami, said, “There are people who are just itching to wager on sports, and they don’t care how it happens; they just want to bet. But this is a compact that’s going to last for 30 years in duration,” (ABC Action News).

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