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Florida: The Supreme Court's refusal to hear an appeal cements the permanence of online sports betting

Wednesday 19 de June 2024 / 12:00

2 minutos de lectura

(Florida).- The Seminole Tribe of Florida owns it, after the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear a challenge to the tribe’s negotiated gambling agreement with the state.

Florida: The Supreme Court's refusal to hear an appeal cements the permanence of online sports betting

Online sports betting in Florida is here to stay for now, and the Seminole Tribe of Florida owns it, after the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear a challenge to the tribe’s negotiated gambling agreement with the state.

The tribe’s monopoly over online sports betting will bring in hundreds of millions of dollars a year to both the Seminoles and the state, money Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Legislature have largely put toward environmental conservation efforts.

“The Seminole Tribe of Florida applauds today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to decline consideration of the case involving the Tribe’s Gaming Compact with the State of Florida,” Gary Bitner, spokesperson for the tribe, wrote the Herald/Times by email on Monday. “It means members of the Seminole Tribe and all Floridians can count on a bright future made possible by the Compact.”

Gambling companies West Flagler Associates and Bonita-Fort Myers Corporation had challenged the state’s gambling agreement — the negotiated agreement — with the tribe on the grounds that it violated the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, arguing that the gambling must occur on tribal lands. While the servers and other electronic devices receiving the bets would be on tribal lands, the disputed 2021 agreement allows Floridians to place them from anywhere in the state.

“Thus, the Compact unambiguously authorizes the Tribe to offer online Sports Betting to persons located off Indian lands, and then ‘deems’ such gambling to be treated as if it occurred ‘exclusively’ on Indian lands,” states the firms’  Feb. 8 petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The firms successfully made this argument to a U.S. district judge in Washington, D.C., who ruled in their favor on Nov. 22, 2021. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed that desicion  last summer, allowing the agreement to stand. The Supreme Court decision to not take the case means the appeal court’s ruling stands.

But for West Flagler and Bonita-Fort Myers the fight may not be over.

In addition to the U.S. Supreme Court, the companies also asked the Florida Supreme Court to weigh in on the matter last year. In March, Florida’s highest court threw the case out  on a technicality. The companies may be able to refile their challenge in a way that could eventually end up back before the court.

“Our client is not taking media requests as they do not wish to comment,” said West Flagler attorney Raquel A. Rodriguez by email on Monday.


In addition to online sports betting, the 2021 agreement allowed for the Seminole’s expansion of gaming to include in-person sports betting, craps and roulette at its six casinos in Florida. Its two biggest casinos are the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Hollywood and the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tampa. Broward County is home to two additional casinos: the Seminole Casino Coconut Creek and the Seminole Classic Casino in Hollywood.

Floridians who want to place sports bets online can do so through the Hard Rock Bet website  and phone application.

Even though the agreement was signed three years ago, the games under its purview didn’t begin in earnest until December of last year. (Sports betting online had been available for a brief period in late 2021.) In January, the tribe began making monthly payments to the state under the agreement, with the most recent payment made on Monday. For the six month period of December through May, the tribe paid the state more than $357 million.

Putting much of the agreement money toward the environment was a priority for Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, a Naples Republican. Through legislation passed this year and signed by DeSantis in early April, that priority became a reality.

The bill, SB 1638  allocated$379 million   from the revenue-sharing agreement for the budget passed this year to environmental projects.

Those projects include:

▪ $100 million for land acquisition in the Florida Wildlife Corridor

▪ $100 million for the management of uplands — non-wetlands — and the removal of invasive species

▪ $100 million for the Resilient Florida Grant Program to guard Florida communities against storm damage and flooding

▪ $79 million for the state’s Water Quality Improvement Grant Program

Senate spokesperson Katie Betta said the amount for the water quality program is expected to be even higher than $79 million for future years.

“Today’s decision ensures that Floridians can continue to gamble while those dollars get appropriated to Florida’s environment,” said Sen. Travis Hutson, a St. Augustine Republican, who sponsored both the original bill from 2021 that became the gaming agreement as well as the legislation this year to put much of its money toward environmental projects.

Last week, DeSantis cited the agreement with the tribe when he vetoed more than $200 million in water quality projects in the state budget, $ 18.1 million of which came from Miami-Dade and Broward Counties.

DeSantis said he didn’t oppose the projects but wanted communities to apply for them through a state grant program. At least $500 million in money from the Tribe would be available for those projects, he said.

“It may end up being more than that because the money’s coming in pretty good,” DeSantis said. “So all those needs will be met.”


Tags: Sin tags

País: United States

Región: North America


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