November 23, 2021 Sports Betting, Tribal, Legal

Florida judge throws out DeSantis' attempt to plow through online betting

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The verdict is the latest in an ongoing legal saga.

The launch of online sports betting at the beginning of the month turns out to have been premature, after federal judge threw out the Seminole tribe’s agreement with the state of Florida that allowed for online betting. The judge reasoned that the betting plan violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.  

Pushed by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida legalized online betting last May after a special legislative session.  

That decision has since been challenged by the pari-mutuels Magic City Casino and Bonita Springs Poker Room, and the legal status of gambling has since been left in limbo.  

From November 1, the state, in concert with the Seminole Tribe, had sought to power through the legal maelstrom by brazenly allowing online gambling in contravention of the legal challenges.  

US District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich declared that any online betting that passes through computer servers on tribal land is illegal.  

In doing so she sided with pari-mutuels, who had argued that the DeSantis Administration's actions had no legal standing on the grounds that the federal government does not allow betting that occurs off of tribal land. They also noted that this server arrangement – known as a ‘hub-and-spokes' system – would cause injurious harm to their bottom line.  

The Department of Justice – which had argued in favor of upholding the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act for their plaintiff, the Interior Department – is hoping to appeal the verdict. In the meantime, they have asked the judge to continue to allow online gambling, at least while the final outcome of the case is still pending.  

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