Florida Supreme Court rules in favor of Seminole Tribe

March 22, 2024
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What was filed by opponents was said to have been the wrong petition type, against the Tribe's online sports betting compact.

The Florida Supreme Court has ruled in favor of online sports betting operations by the Seminole Tribe after opponents to the compact filed a petition. According to the court, the petition was the wrong type to file to challenge the compact. 

Opponents to the compact include the West Flagler Associates and the Bonita-Fort Myers Corporation, operators of poker rooms and racing tracks in the Sunshine State. The firms said the compact, which was approved by the Florida Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis, exceeded their authorization by allowing betting outside of Tribal lands, and that such a compact has created a sports betting monopoly. 

It also argued that allowing the Tribe to operate online sports betting goes against a 2018 Florida constitutional amendment, which requires a citizens initiative to allow casino gambling outside of tribal lands.  

The Seminole Tribe launched a limited version of its online sports betting app in Florida in November. The Tribe was permitted to offer online wagering in 2021 by DeSantis, with the agreement that the Tribe would pay the state $2.5bn over the next five years. This version of online sports betting, however, was quickly challenged by lawsuits.  

According to state economic forecasters, revenue share from Tribal gaming could reach a total of $4.4bn in the next six years.  

The Tribe has worked closely with DeSantis for some time in the creation and maintenance of its sports betting compact, having donated $1m to the Governor in 2022. In this latest filing by opponents, DeSantis’ attorneys have pointed out that sports betting and casino betting are different practices, meaning that sports betting cannot be prohibited by the 2018 amendment in the same way casino gaming can.  

The Seminole Tribe added that it is up to the legislature to make the final call on where online gambling can be initiated.  

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