Lawyers from the US Government have asked a federal appeals court to reverse a ruling that invalidated Florida’s attempt to give the Seminole Tribe a monopoly on sports betting in The Sunshine State.
Governor Ron DeSantis – who has received large campaign contributions from the Tribe – green-lit the gambling agreement that subsequently came under scrutiny.
The federal appeals court is investigating concerns Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, whose agency oversees tribal gaming, had vested interests in letting the deal go ahead.
This Wednesday, a three-judge panel on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard arguments from the US Department of the Interior, the Seminole Tribe, and the plaintiffs – West Flagler Association (who own gaming properties in Florida).
The plaintiffs argued that the Seminole Tribe and Florida’s Government were attempting to circumvent state law that prohibits the expansion of gambling without voter approval. They say the Seminole Tribe had agreed in the new compact to establish a ‘hub-and-spoke’ model for sports betting.
This means the Tribe would move online sports bets from players outside Tribal land through the Tribe’s servers. The plaintiffs argued this was “an attempt to use federal Indian gaming law as a way to authorize sports betting in Florida.”
West Flagler Association owns Magic City Casino and Bonita Springs Poker Room, and they were joined by a group of plaintiffs including Miami businessmen and prominent gambling opponents. They all signed separate lawsuits against Haaland alleging the federal government had acted improperly by approving the compact.
Federal District Court Judge Robert L. Wilkins said the court would take the appeal “under advisement,” meaning it will reserve judgment while it considers a ruling.