2021 was supposed to be a big year for sports betting in the state of Florida as it appeared that the industry would launch at some point during the 2021 NFL season. The Seminole Tribe signed a new gaming compact with Governor Ron DeSantis, and that compact was approved by lawmakers.
The Seminole Tribe controls the gaming industry in the Sunshine State, and it was set to play a major role in operating sports betting as well. Lawsuits were threatened right away, and those have since been filed since the Federal Government gave official approval of this compact.
Earlier this week, another lawsuit was officially filed in Washington DC by Armando Codina and Norman Braman. Braman is a retailer, and Codina is a developer.
There are two main arguments in the lawsuit, with the first coming against the US Department of Interior. The lawsuit claims that this new gaming compact was improperly allowed and that it goes against the Florida State Constitution.
The Florida Constitution requires voters to approve of any new gaming expansion, but the Seminoles and Governor DeSantis were able to work around that language. This has been one of the biggest points of contention since the gaming compact was signed, but there is another issue in play as well.
There is an option for the Seminole Tribe to partner with pari-mutuels in the state, and that would allow for betting off of the tribal land. Many argue that this violates the Wire Act and the Indiana Gaming Regulatory Act.
States throughout the US that have sports betting, have allowed Native American tribes to get in on the action as well, but all of the betting must be done on the reservation. The Seminole Tribe has not yet announced any plans to offer betting off tribal land, but this lawsuit wants to remove that possibility completely.
Federal Court Hearing Set
The Washington D.C. Federal Court has announced that a hearing is set for November 5 to discuss online sports betting in Florida. The original launch date of Florida sports betting was October 15, but that date has been pushed back a month.
The Seminole Tribe has made it clear that it has no plans of ending the push for sports betting, and it is going to be ready to go if it gets a favorable decision in the court. This particular lawsuit is drawing national attention at this time, but others are in the works as well.
Pari-mutuel facilities throughout the state are worried that they will lose out on business if the Seminole Tribe is able to launch both retail and online sports betting. The top sportsbook operators in the US are also concerned as they have been left out of this plan completely.
It’s unclear how the court will view this case as the US Department of Interior has already given its full approval. An appeal will likely come regardless of the outcome, and that could push the launch date back even further.