The Seminole Tribe have won their federal court appeal on sports betting in Florida. The Seminole Tribe had been in a legal battle with the federal court, after a federal judge shut their sports betting sites down three weeks later, stating that it violated federal Indian gaming laws.
Seminole Tribe Win Legal Battle Over Florida Sports Betting
On November 1, 2021, the Seminole Tribe quietly went live with sports betting in the state of Florida. Just three weeks later, it was shut down, with a federal judge ruling that the compact with the state of Florida violated federal Indian gaming laws. Now, just less than 20 months on, a federal appeals court reversed that decision.
In a triumph for the Seminole Tribe of Florida that could upend gambling in the state, a federal appeals court on Friday ordered the Department of Interior to reinstate the agreement that gave the tribe and it’s Hard Rock casinos a monopoly on sports betting in Florida.
However, some gambling opponents also said that the decision now opens the door for additional legal challenges. John Sowinski, the spokesperson for No Casinos and Miami businessmen gambling opponents Armando Codina and Norman Braman said, “today’s decision will not be the final word on this issue.”
The decision yesterday was made by a three-judge panel on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. They unanimously concluded that federal gaming law allowed the state to enter into a 30-year agreement with the Seminole Tribe to control sports betting in Florida.
In return, the Seminole Tribe have been ordered to pay the state at least $2.5 billion over the first five years of the agreement in return.
The Appellate Decision
Having been shut down in November 2021, the appeals court reversed the lower court’s decision, saying that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which regulates gaming agreements known as compacts between states and tribes, was flexible enough to allow for Florida’s arrangement.
However, the court left open the possibility that the agreement could be challenged in state courts. West Flagler could also seek an en banc ruling from all the judges on the appellate court and appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
DeSantis’ spokesperson Jason Mahon said the administration was not surprised the appellate court overturned “the lower court’s perplexing ruling.”
“We will continue working with the Seminole Tribe of Florida to ensure the success of this historic compact — the largest gaming compact in U.S. history — which will lead to over $20 billion in revenues for the people of Florida,” he said.