Florida Betting News: More legal battles set to dominate in 2022

By Simon Taylor
Florida Betting News 1

There seems to be no let-up to the legal battles in Florida when it comes to gambling.

The latest dispute to emerge involves the proposal of a constitutional amendment to allow for the building of new casinos in north Florida. 

The amendment was already struggling to get the near 900,000 signatures needed to be on the ballot paper this November.

In total, 891,589 signatures are required by February 1st, 2022, to get the casino expansion onto the November ballot.

As of last week, it was reported that only 425,500 signatures were on the political action. And with just three weeks to go, a big push is required to get the required valid signatures.

And now to add a further twist to the saga, the Florida Attorney General, Ashley Moody has asked the Supreme Court to examine the proposal to allow for the construction of the casinos. 

The required 222,898 signatures to force a judicial review was passed in December, prompting the move from Moody.

The court’s remit is to see if the initiative meets state requirements, such as only having a single subject and wording that is not misleading to voters.

This latest action further muddies the waters in what was already a bitter dispute. 

Vegas Sands v Seminole Tribe

Las Vegas Sands is behind a movement to end the monopoly – they believe is – held by the Seminole Tribe on casinos in Florida.

The movement is known as the Florida Voters in Charge (FVC) and has so far been backed to the tune of $27 million by Sands.

If successful, Las Vegas Sands Corp would be looking at the prospect of developing a casino-based resort in Jacksonville.

The move has obviously been met with resistance by the Seminole Tribe who are looking to defend their position. The tribe want to maintain their seven Vegas-style casinos as the main gambling attraction in the sunshine state. 

The Seminole Tribe is behind a movement called Standing up for Florida, Inc, which is arguing against outside interests coming into Florida and taking a huge share of the spoils.

There is plenty at stake here, and this is why both sides are prepared to throw millions of dollars into their respective movements.

And the fact that the Supreme Court of Florida has now been instructed to become involved will no doubt be seen as a further blow to the FVC movement.

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Seminole Tribe previously forced to suspend Betting App

This is just the latest in a long line of battlers the Seminole Tribe has found themselves involved in lately.

Just last month they were forced to suspend the use of their Florida sports betting app. This was due to an earlier court ruling that saw the owners of the Magic City Casino and Bonita Springs Poker Room challenge the legality of the compact agreement

The compact agreement agreed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Marcellus Osceola Jr (Seminole Tribe of Florida Chairman) in spring 2021 allowed the Seminole Tribe to accept sports bets from gamblers throughout the state, online.

The Hard Rock mobile sports app was used to accept the sports bets. And that is effectively what the challenge was about.

The Havernick family – who own both the Magic City Casino and Bonita Springs Poker Room – are reported to have claimed the agreement broke federal laws by violating the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act gave the Seminole Tribe the right to accept bets on tribal lands.

The court case about the sports betting app centered on whether the person placing the bet had to be on the tribal land at the time of placing the bet.  

It was in November 2021 that Judge Dabney L. Friedrich deemed the compact illegal, and at the same time, the ruling also put a halt to the tribe’s planned Hard Rock casino extensions in the counties of Broward and Hillsborough.

The tribe had hoped to expand the wagering houses into full Las Vegas-style casinos.

At the moment the Seminole Tribe seems to be getting embroiled in legal disputes whichever direction they take.

There are clearly high stakes involved here. And all parties on all sides seem prepared to find any legality that can result in a court challenge.

In a further separate incident, an affiliate of Las Vegas Sands attempted to take out a restraining order against groups backed by the Seminole Tribe.

The tribe was accused of trying to poach petition gatherers, and of a campaign of harassment, intimidation, and sham-petition gathering.

Ultimately, a Leon County Judge ruled against the Vegas Sands affiliate and threw the case out. The Sands group has since dropped the request.

The fight seems to be going down to the wire. And as all the above shows, even when one side thinks they have gained an advantage, there is always another legal challenge just waiting to be launched.

This is a high-stakes turf war over casino revenues being played out in the Florida legal system

And these legal challenges show how dirty the fights involving the Tribe and their opponents are now becoming.

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Watch this space, as there is sure to be far more to come. 

Be sure to check out our Florida Sports Betting Sites page for more information about betting in the Sunshine State.