Related video above: Online sports betting returns on limited basis in Florida
TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Florida Supreme Court has been asked to block the Seminole Tribe’s sports betting shortly after it was announced the app would relaunch, according to online court documents.
West Flagler Associates asked the court on Tuesday to “immediately suspend the off-reservation sports betting provisions in the Implementing Law that purport to authorize the Tribe to conduct sports betting statewide,” and to maintain the status quo of “no sports betting statewide” until a ruling is made in the existing court cases.
Last week, the Seminole Tribe announced in-person sports betting would return to its casinos in December after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to block a compact — a $2.5 billion deal between the tribe and the state — which would allow sports betting in Florida.
The Seminole Tribe on Tuesday announced that its mobile sports betting app would return, with existing customers being able to bet right away. Others have to join a waitlist. The latest court challenge was filed at 5:01 p.m.
“This launch was not previously announced and came as a surprise,” West Flagler said in the court filing.
“The widespread understanding was that the references to sports betting were in-person sports betting, which is not the subject of the instant Petition,” according to the filing.
“Taking advantage of the distraction created by their carefully crafted announcement on November 1, the Tribe has sought to surprise the Petitioners and this Court by presenting a ‘fait accompli’ on November 7,” the filing reads.
West Flagler argues that the Seminole Tribe “exceeded their constitutional authority in enacting legislation expanding casino gambling in this state without a citizen’s approval,” according to the filing.
The Seminole Tribe declined to comment, and WFLA is still awaiting a response from the governor’s office.
The compact allowed mobile sports betting as long as the computer servers hosting the betting were located on tribal land. The existing legal challenges surround whether or not the mobile app violates the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and the Florida Constitution.
Two brick-and-mortar casinos — Magic City Casino and Bonita Springs Poker Room — sued over approval of the compact, stating it would hurt their businesses by giving “an Indian tribe a statewide monopoly to conduct online sports gaming while simultaneously making such conduct a felony if done by anyone of a different race, ancestry, ethnicity or national origin.”
A federal judge’s decision siding with the casinos was overruled by an appeals court, which said the compact did not violate federal law.
“To the extent that a separate Florida statute (as distinct from the compact) authorizes the Seminole Tribe—and only the Seminole Tribe—to conduct certain off-reservation gaming operations in Florida, the state law raises serious equal protection issues,” Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in a statement on Wednesday’s ruling.
Gov. Ron DeSantis’ party has until Dec. 1 to respond to the new filing.