The Florida Supreme Court received a motion to suspend online sports betting activities in the state hours after the Seminole Tribe relaunched its mobile app, Hard Rock Bet. The request came from West Flagler Associates, which represents multiple pari-mutuels in Florida, and marks the latest episode in a contentious legal battle over the exclusive sports betting rights held by the tribe.
The compact between the state and the Seminole Tribe is at the center of this controversy. This agreement, which gives the tribe a monopoly over sports betting in exchange for millions in revenue for the state, faces legal challenges over claims that it violates federal law and a state constitutional amendment that requires popular vote approval for any gambling expansion.
Lawyers from Buchanan Ingersoll and Rooney, representing West Flagler, have expressed that the suspension of sports betting outside of reservations is necessary to preserve the status quo until the legality of the compact is definitively resolved by the Supreme Court.
The motion filed argues that otherwise, the Seminole Tribe will extend its sports betting activities beyond reservations, defying the state constitution and ignoring the popular will expressed in relation to casino gambling expansion.
The document expresses concern that the Supreme Court is unlikely to decide on the underlying challenge to the gambling agreement until next year: “In the meantime, absent an expedited ruling on petitioners’ … request, the tribe will apparently continue with its off-reservation sports betting operations in contravention of the Florida Constitution … potentially raking in millions of dollars in sports bets that this court may eventually find were authorized in contravention of the Florida Constitution and derogation of the people’s right to decide on the expansion of casino gambling.”
The situation is made even tenser with the tribe’s announcement earlier this month of the return of in-person sports betting at its South Florida casinos, scheduled for December 7. This move highlights the importance of the imminent Supreme Court decision, which now carries the weight of impacting not just online betting but also physical casino operations.
Speaking to CBS News, gambling expert Bob Jarvis, a law professor at Nova Southeastern University, interpreted the motion as broad enough to cover both in-person and mobile betting. “If the court is going to grant the stay, I cannot imagine at this point the court would want to say, ‘We’re going to allow in-person, we’re only going to deal with the issue of remote,'” he said.