Florida’s nascent sports betting market was just blocked by a judge
By Bob Garcia
A judge rules that Florida’s gaming compact with the Seminole may be illegal
After months of discussions in which the Seminole Tribe of Florida and state officials sat down to finally come up with an amended gaming compact, the efforts have gone completely down the drain, as it was announced that a federal judge threw out the document entirely. With that, statewide mobile sports betting, which the tribe launched three weeks ago, is on hold and has become the talk of the town.
Dabney Friedrich, the US District Judge, made the decision to strike down the entire compact, which had granted the Seminole Tribe exclusive rights to conduct retail and online sports betting in the Sunshine State. This also means that Seminole Gaming will no longer be able to offer roulette and craps games at its tribal casinos in the state.
It all started three months ago when two mutual betting operators filed a lawsuit in federal court in the District of Columbia alleging that Deb Haaland, the secretary of the Interior, should not have given the green light to the deal because the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), the 33-year-old federal law that oversees tribal gaming nationwide, was being bypassed. While it is true that the federal government had 45 days after the state submitted the compact to review it for approval or denial, no response was ever received, so it was deemed approved to the extent that it complied with IGRA.
Friedrich, through his 25-page opinion, made it clear that the compact authorized gaming on and off tribal lands, and that consequently, the “Compact violates IGRA’s ‘Indian lands’ requirement, which means the Secretary had an affirmative duty to reject it,” he wrote.
It is believed that an appeal to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals is likely to be forthcoming, but for the time being, until things are cleared up, the sports betting market in Florida will be at a standstill.