Federal judge halts sports betting in Florida, says compact violates Indian gaming laws

Florida

TAMPA, Fla (WFLA) — A federal judge has halted sports betting in Florida, after saying the recent gaming compact between Florida and the Seminole Tribe violates federal Indian gaming laws.

Earlier this month, the Seminole Tribe launched their sports betting app, allowing Floridians to place bets on different sporting events throughout the state.

The new app, Hard Rock Sportsbook, lets Florida adults place bets on sports, using smartphones and other devices, and transfer money to wager from PayPal or Venmo.

However, a judge has stopped the betting saying the compact violates federal Indian gaming law by allowing betting or gaming to take place off of Indian lands.

“When a federal statute authorizes an activity only at specific locations, parties may not evade that limitation by “deeming” their activity to occur where it, as a factual matter, does not,” court documents state.

Sports betting became legal in October under a gaming compact, which was signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis and Marcellus Osceola Jr., chairman of the Seminole Tribe in April, and approved by lawmakers in May.

According to the compact, bets made anywhere in Florida “using a mobile app or other electronic device, shall be deemed to be exclusively conducted by the tribe,” since they’re run through computer servers on tribal property.

Right now, the federal judge is calling to reinstate the Tribe’s prior compact that took effect in 2010 and would remain in effect until 2030.

“Because the more recent Compact is no longer in effect, continuing to offer online sports betting would violate federal law,” as stated in the court documents.

The judge says that the State and the Seminole Tribe can agree to a new compact that allows online gaming to take place solely on Indian lands, with the Secretary’s approval.  

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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