Federal judge rules against Florida sports betting

Some $2.5 billion were expected to be paid in the first 5 years of the 30-year gaming compact that was signed between the state and the Seminole Tribe that now is on hold.
Some $2.5 billion were expected to be paid in the first 5 years of the 30-year gaming compact that was signed between the state and the Seminole Tribe that now is on hold.

Judge Dabney Friedrich ruled that the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s compact with the state violates the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) and invalidated the agreement.

US.- Florida sports betting legalization continues to face difficulties as a U.S. district judge ruled that a compact under which the Seminole Tribe in Florida operates an online sports betting app for use anywhere in the state “violates” the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).

Judge Dabney Friedrich has put a hold on the sports betting activity in the state. The Judge explained that currently, sports betting is offered statewide via any smartphone or laptop, however, IGRA limits the activity to being offered only on tribal lands. 

“The State and the Tribe may agree to a new compact … that allows online gaming solely on Indian lands,” the judge wrote. “Because the most recent compact is no longer in effect, continuing to offer online sports betting would violate federal law.”

She added: “Alternatively, Florida citizens may authorize such betting across their state through a citizens’ initiative.”

Friedrich wrote that the secretary of U.S. Department of the Interior might not “approve future compacts that authorize conduct outside IGRA’s scope. And IGRA, as the Supreme Court explained in Bay Mills, authorizes gaming ‘on Indian lands, and nowhere else.’ ”

The ruling sides with Magic City Casino in Miami-Dade County and Bonita Springs Poker Room in Southwest Florida, whose owners challenged the gambling deal signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis, after it was approved by state lawmakers in a special session of the Legislature in May.

“Last night’s ruling was a victory for family-owned businesses like ours who pay their fair share in taxes and believe the free market should guide the business operations of gaming venues,” said Christian Ulvert, spokesperson for Magic City Casino. “The judge clearly understood the blatant violation of IGRA as her ruling demonstrates.

The compact was expected to bring billions for the state but now the future of sports betting in Florida remains unclear.

“The Seminole Tribe is reviewing the judge’s opinion and carefully considering its next steps,” said Gary Bitner, spokesperson for the Seminole Tribe of Florida, according to the Herald Tribune. 

See also: Seminole Tribe in sports betting agreements with Florida pari-mutuels

In this article:
Florida sports betting Indian Gaming Regulatory Act Seminole Tribe