TAMPA, Fla. — On Monday, a federal judge threw out the game compact between the State of Florida and the Seminole Tribe, ruling that the agreement is in violation of the Indian Gaming Regulation Act. It allows people to place bets even if they aren’t physically on Indian Lands.
The compact allows people to place bets online from anywhere within the state, but not from Indian Lands. Judge Dabney Friedrich stated that the agreement “grants to the Tribe a monopoly on both all online betting as well as all wagers on major sporting events.”
Friedrich stated in her opinion that the solution to the decision was to restore the Tribe’s prior compact, which went into effect in 2010.
“In that respect, this decision restores the legal status of class III gaming in Florida to where it was on August 4, 2021 — one day before the Secretary approved the new compact by inaction. Friedrich wrote that online sportsbetting is illegal because the Compact was no longer in force. “This decision doesn’t mean that there aren’t other options for allowing online sports betting to be legalized in Florida. With the approval of the Secretary, the State and Tribe could agree to a new compact that allows online gambling only on Indian lands.
“The Seminole Tribe is reviewing the Judge’s opinion and carefully considering its next steps,” a spokesperson for the tribe said in a statement Tuesday.
Daniel Wallach, an attorney and expert in gambling and sports, said that he was not surprised by the recent ruling.
“Her ruling was devastating for the compact. Wallach stated that the entire compact was invalidated because the governor and the legislature went too far in authorizing online sports betting via a tribal compact.
Wallach stated that the ruling of a federal judge is not necessarily the end all and be all for online sports betting in Florida.
Wallach stated, “The federal government has the option to file a notice d’appel and appeal the matter to D.C. circuit Court of Appeals. I would expect that the first thing that the federal government would do is to request an immediate stay of the trial court ruling in the pending outcome of the appeal.”
Wallach says another way to get online betting back on the table would be to amend the November 2022 ballot. Wallach stated that this move is risky since it doesn’t guarantee success and requires voter approval of 60%.
Wallach stated that the legislature could meet again in session January or February to pass a sports betting law. However, this time, they would amend the compact to allow only in-person betting on Indian lands. If they do that, then there will be sports betting available on tribal properties.
Wallach indicated that there are no bets on Monday’s NFL game between New York Giants & Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“I think the Seminole Tribe would make the right decision and declare the bets null ab initio. Wallach explained that invalid means to return the money to the customer.
Check out the complete opinion hereOr below.
The Hard Rock Sportsbook launched sports betting in Florida on November 1. The app was still functioning at the time of the judge’s ruling.
West Flagler Associates (West Flagler) and Bonita Fort Myers Corporation (Bonita Fort Myers Corporation) filed lawsuits to stop the Interior Sec. approval of the company. Deb Halland. Both companies own two brick and mortar casinos in Florida.
Monterra MF, its co-plaintiffs and Monterra MF filed a separate challenge to the approval on Sept. 27.
The judge’s opinion states that all co-plaintiffs reside, work or own property within close proximity to Florida casinos. No Casinos, an organization of non-profits that opposes expansion of gambling in Florida, is the other coplaintiff.
This story was first published by Emily McCain, Scripps station WFTSTampa, Florida