TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The U.S. Supreme Court has denied an emergency request to block a lower court ruling allowing mobile sports betting facilitated by the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
Wednesday’s decision upheld an appeals court ruling against a challenge to a $2.5 billion deal between the state and the Seminole Tribe championed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The 2021 compact allowed people across the state to place bets using their mobile devices, as long as the site or app handling the transactions is hosted by computer servers on tribal land.
Magic City Casino and Bonita Springs Poker Room – two brick-and-mortar casinos – sued the federal government over its approval of the compact, claiming it would harm their businesses. Their attorneys argued the compact “gives 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 ruled in favor of the casinos, but the decision was reversed by the appeals court ruling stating the compact did not violate federal law – specifically, the Federal Gaming Regulatory Act protecting Native Americans.
“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.
A separate legal challenge is being considered by the Florida Supreme Court, as Kavanaugh stated.