Florida Supreme Court Sides With Seminole Tribe in Sports Betting Case

Florida Supreme Court Sides With Seminole Tribe in Sports Betting Case

The Florida Supreme Court sided with the Seminole Tribe Thursday, allowing mobile sports betting to continue

Liv Caputo
Liv Caputo
March 22, 2024

TALLAHASSEE, FL—The Florida Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Seminole Gaming Compact Thursday morning, allowing the Seminole Tribe to continue online sports betting.

“This is a major victory for the people of the State of Florida, who can count on billions of dollars over the coming years to fund important state needs,” Seminole Tribe spokesman Gary Bitner said.

“Floridians and visitors can enjoy statewide sports betting and expanded casino games, now and into the future.  And it means the Seminole Tribe of Florida can have confidence in the future.”

The as-of-now failed lawsuit was brought against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis by the pari-mutuels of West Flagler Associates, which owns Miami's Magic City Casino and Bonita Springs' Poker Room.

The pari-mutuels wanted to strike down part of a 2021 deal between the state and the tribe that allowed gamblers to place mobile sports bets, even if they were off tribal property. In return, the tribe paid the state a minimum of $2.5 billion for the first five years of the three decade deal.

West Flagler argued that the off-land betting violates a 2018 constitutional amendment, requiring authorized casino gambling to be approved by Florida voters. In addition, they claimed DeSantis was guilty of an "abuse of authority" for allowing sports betting off tribal lands.

“The amendment is an enduring grant to the people themselves — and only them — to authorize new gambling in Florida,” West Flagler argued. “The constitutional provision should be interpreted for sports betting as it exists today.”

However, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody's office—on behalf of the state—contended, and ultimately proved, that sports betting is not casino gambling.

A lower court initially ruled in the pari-mutuels favor, striking down the contested sports betting portion of the deal. An appellate court reversed, allowing the tribe to restart their mobile system in the fall—though the U.S. Supreme Court may still take up the decision on appeal.

The Florida Supreme Court's Thursday ruling found that West Flagler's petition "is not the proper vehicle to obtain a declaration as to the substantive constitutionality of an enacted law", thereby denying the parimutuels on the grounds of quo warranto—the reasoning behind the petition.

The billions annually received by the state from the Seminole Tribe will be partially allocated to Florida's wildlife corridor and other environmental projects, due to a new bill passed this session. Sponsored by Republican Sen. Travis Hutson, the measure ascribes an "indeterminate" amount of revenue to these initiatives.

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Liv Caputo

Liv Caputo

Livia Caputo is a senior at Florida State University, working on a major in Criminology, and a triple minor in Psychology, Communications, and German. She has been working on a journalism career for the past year, and hopes to become a successful reporter after graduation. Her work has been cited in Fox News, the New York Post, and the Daily Mail

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