Sports Betting

Supreme Court is holding a key meeting this week regarding a sports betting case in Florida

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On Thursday, the Supreme Court was scheduled to hold a conference. Their main objective is to determine whether to take up a petition filed by a Florida parimutuel. This petition was signed by West Flagler Associates (WFA) four months ago. WFA is asking the court to decide the legality of a 2021 gambling compact between the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the state. As of now, the compact states that the Seminole Tribes have exclusivity on mobile sport wagering in Florida. This is being challenged by the parimutuel representing WFA. 

In February, WFA filed a writ of certiorari to petition the Supreme Court for a review. Four of the nine Supreme Court justices must vote to grant certiorari to take up the sports betting case. Yesterday, these justices convened for a private meeting. The West Flagler Associates, Ltd., et al. v. Deb Haaland, et al. was distributed to the justices for discussion. This case has the potential to serve as a proxy for mobile sports betting on tribal lands across the country.

What issues have WFA and Seminole Tribes in Flordia run into?

Roughly three years ago, the Florida Legislature and Seminole Tribe agreed to a new compact. This gave the tribe the ability to accept wagers on sports for the first. Their compact was signed for 30 years, with the tribe paying the state $20 billion. Including $2.5 billion in the first five years. This compact with the state allowed the tribe to establish a “hub-and-spoke” model. Meaning the Floridians could place wagers anywhere inside the state through mobile servers located on tribal land. 

Next, the compact between the Florida Legislature and the Seminole Tribe went to the Interior Department (DOI) for approval. However, Secretary Deb Haaland took no action after the 45-day waiting period had ended. Months after Haaland failed to move the compact any further, WFA appeared in the US District Court. Judge Dabney L. Friedrich ruled that the compact violated the Indian Regulatory Gaming Act (IRGA) of 1988. In Friedrich’s ruling, she said the plaintiffs faced a “competitive injury”. Tribes currently have a monopoly on mobile sports betting in the state. Additionally, the Seminole Tribes could be breaking their IRGA by accepting wagers on non-tribal lands. 

In November 2023, the Seminole Tribe launched a new incarnation of Hard Rock Bet. Sports betting was first introduced by the tribes in 2021. However, it was taken offline just 34 days later in Florida. According to the tribes’ current compact, parimutuels are allowed to offers sports bettig. However, the companies must do so through Seminole servers along with paying a 60% revenue-sharing fee on all yearly winnings. With that type of monopoly, no other parimutuel offers sports betting in Florida.