Federal judge rejects Seminole Tribe request for hold in gambling compact case

Politics

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — After invalidating the Seminole Tribe’s gambling agreement with the state of Florida earlier this week, a federal judge has rejected the tribe’s request to put a hold on her ruling while the case moves through appeals.

Judge Dabney L. Friedrich of the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia said “the Tribe has not shown a substantial likelihood of success on the merits” to warrant a stay of her ruling.

As written, the compact signed this past April would have let sports bets be placed on a phone from anywhere through apps operated by the Tribe as long as the servers were on tribal lands. Betting by app started on Nov. 1 with the launch of the Hard Rock Sportsbook.

Judge Friedrich blocked the historic deal on Monday, which would bring in $500 million a year to the state of Florida, ruling that the agreement that would have allowed online betting violated federal rules for gambling on tribal land.

When she rejected that legal argument, Friedrich said the court “cannot accept that fiction.”

On Tuesday, the Seminole Tribe of Florida moved to appeal her decision, asking that a hold be placed to allow betting to continue while the case moves through the appeals process.

Wednesday night, Friedrich denied the tribe’s request.

The court wrote that to obtain the remedy of a hold or stay, the moving party, in this case the Seminole Tribe of Florida, would have to show that the “intrusion is warranted upon consideration of four factors…”

Those factors were listed by Friedrich as:

  • Whether the stay applicant has made a strong showing that he is likely to succeed on the merits
  • Whether the applicant will be irreparably injured absent a stay
  • Whether issuance of the stay will substantially injure the other parties interested in the proceeding
  • Where the public interest lies

In her five-page order, Friedrich called a stay pending appeal an “extraordinary remedy.” Addressing each of the four requirements, Friedrich dismantled the request for a stay.

She said the Tribe had failed to show a “substantial likelihood of success on the merits” of its case and that in her previous ruling, “The Court addressed indispensability at length in its Memorandum Opinion.”

Additionally, Friedrich said that while the Tribe is now challenging the opinion’s reasoning, “its new arguments do not persuade,” and that a stronger presentation would not have changed the case’s outcome, even with the support of evidence from government counsel.

The court was also unmoved by the Tribe’s motion raising what it called “serious legal questions.” The order said the Tribe failed to prove irreparable harm would be caused by not receiving a stay, with economic loss in and of itself not a way to “constitute irreparable harm,” according to the judge. In the ruling, the judge wrote that neither side of the case would see such harm.

Addressing the final point, public interest, Friedrich wrote that “On the last factor, any public interest in preserving the compact does not outweigh the above considerations.”

Making the point final, Friedrich ordered that the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s Motion to Stay pending appeal was denied.

In the meantime, Friedrich said in her decision Monday that the state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe can return to the previous compact, which took effect in 2010, or agree to a new compact which would allow online gaming solely on Indian lands. That deal would need approval from the Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland.

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

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