October 19, 2021 Sports Betting, Tribal, Legal

First legal challenge against Seminole Tribe’s hold on Florida sports betting dismissed

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West Flagler Associates, owners of Magic City Casino in Miami and Bonita Springs Poker Room, could not show the sports betting law harms parimutuels.

U.S. District Court Judge Allen Winsor dismissed a lawsuit from West Flagler Associates challenging the state of Florida’s sports betting compact agreement with the Seminole Tribe.

Winsor said West Flagler Associates, which owns a southern Florida casino and poker room, could not prove that the compact negatively affects parimutuels.

West Flagler Associates sued the Seminoles and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in July, claiming that the sports betting agreement hurts their business and that a portion of the compact violates federal law by permitting online gaming outside of tribal land, a violation of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

The compact has already been approved by the Department of Interior.

“As the Parimutuels acknowledge, the implementing law became effective immediately upon the Governor’s approval, and the Florida Secretary of State already submitted it for federal approval,’’ Winsor wrote. “Now that the die is cast, it is not clear what the Governor has to do with ‘implementing’ the sports betting provisions. So there is no indication that an injunction against the Governor would ‘significantly increase the likelihood’ that the Parimutuels would obtain relief, ‘whether directly or indirectly’.”

Winsor added, “But even assuming a declaration against the Governor would bind the State, it would not bind the Tribe, which would have no obligation to recognize any declaration’s legal effect.”

Last month, West Flagler Associates filed a separate lawsuit against Department of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, seeking to block the Seminoles’ ability to offer sports betting. That lawsuit is still pending.

The Seminoles were legally approved to begin sports betting last Friday, but the tribe has said it will wait until later in the year to launch.

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