An ongoing back and forth, West Flagler Associates has filed again in the Supreme Court case regarding sports betting in the Sunshine State. Per a recent article, West Flagler filed a writ petition last Thursday with the Supreme Court of the United States in the Florida sports betting case against the Department of the Interior. As noted in prior reports, West Flagler had received approval from SCOTUS to extend its filing deadline from Dec. 11, 2023, to last Thursday, February 8, 2024. Meanwhile, Hard Rock Bet has been operating Florida sports betting for a few months. The Hard Rock online sports betting app re-launched on Nov. 7, while the operator debuted in-person sports betting at its Seminole casinos a month later. Also, there is a separate Florida sports betting case in state court that is also pending.
For this report, SBS will be going over the latest gaming news coming from the Sunshine State along with more insights about the status of Florida sports betting.
As reported in the space over time, the Seminole Tribe of Florida has exclusivity to offer sports betting in the Sunshine State. This is because of the Seminole Compact, which was negotiated with Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2021. However, West Flagler is attempting to challenge the pact in the highest court in the land.
The latest writ petition asks SCOUTS to consider three questions. Per the article, these questions include, “whether the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) authorizes the approval of a compact that purports to allow for an online sports gambling monopoly throughout the state and off Indian lands.” Moreover, the second question states, “Whether an IGRA compact violates the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) if it provides for internet sports betting that is unlawful where many of the bets are placed.” Finally, the writ asks, “whether the Secretary’s approval of a tribe-state compact violates equal protection principles where it provides a specific tribe with a monopoly on online sports gaming off tribal lands, while state law makes that conduct a felony for everyone else.”
Per the same article, attorney Hamish Hume and his colleagues presented the following reasons why the court should grant the petition. This was noted in the report as the “IGRA does not authorize the approval of a compact that provides a statewide tribal monopoly over online sports.” Moreover, IGRA allows the secretary “to approve any Tribal-State compact entered into between an Indian tribe and a State governing gaming on Indian lands.” Also, the article reports that “the DC Circuit’s analysis of UIGEA conflicts with the Ninth Circuit interpretation in a similar case.” Finally, “this case raises an important national issue regarding the constitutionality of granting a statewide gambling monopoly of an Indian tribe.”
Moreover, one gaming legal analyst, John Holden, provided more context surrounding West Flagler’s argument in a recent report. “Generally, this brief takes a couple of monster swings for the fences. It makes the argument we expected to see that IGRA does not permit mobile sports betting because it is not on Indian Lands.’ Then they continue making the UIGEA argument, which is likely related to the Desert Rose Bingo case, and trying to show a circuit split with the DCA decision. The third argument however comes from Justice Kavanaugh’s comments, which they cite directly about Equal Protection,” Holden said.
The report also states from Holden the following, “the first and third are monster swings at IGRA in its entirety. The second one continues to puzzle me, mainly because I don’t think it is especially strong, in comparison, and none of the lower courts have paid significant attention. This is a fairly strong brief that contains most of what we expected. The biggest surprise is perhaps that the brief pushes the Equal Protection question down to the third question instead of the second.”
As noted in the same report, Indian Gaming legal analyst Joe Webster said at the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States (NCLGS) conference in Florida that if SCOTUS decides in the spring to hear the Florida sports betting case, it would be decided sometime in 2025. Moreover, SCOTUS hears only 70-80 cases annually, or fewer than 2% of the petitions it gets. One other expert, a professor from Florida State University said, “West Flagler’s chances of having its cert petition granted are slim. The Supreme Court may also view the cert petition as premature given the tethered proceedings currently pending at the Florida State Supreme Court.”
Once you are all squared regarding the latest gaming news and notes coming from the Sunshine State, make sure to check out the wide variety of resources available to you at SBS. Of course, for even more insights on the topic at hand, our Florida sports betting guide has you covered with all the latest news coming from the Sunshine State to keep you informed. Moreover, if you are interested in diversifying your deposit and withdrawal options, check out our payment methods rundown. Here you can find various methods from cryptocurrencies to more traditional banking routes. Finally, if you are interested in some higher stakes wagering, then look into the VIP sports betting sites breakdown which covers VIP betting and how it might make sense for you.