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UPDATED: Seminole Tribe Submits Petition of Support for Florida Online Sports Betting, Gov. DeSantis

Robert Linnehan

by Robert Linnehan in Sports Betting News

Updated Dec 8, 2023 · 1:19 PM PST

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  • The Seminole Tribe is requesting it be allowed to submit an amicus curiae brief in support of Gov. Ron DeSantis’s response to West Flagler
  • The tribe submitted a 33-page brief to the Florida Supreme Court
  • Gov. Ron DeSantis and his legal counsel recently submitted their own response in support of the 2021 Florida gaming compact and online sports betting

UPDATE: The Florida Supreme Court has granted the Seminole Tribe’s request and has allowed it to submit its amicus curiae brief.

The Seminole Tribe has requested its opinion be heard by the Florida Supreme Court for an ongoing lawsuit against the 2021 Florida gaming compact from West Flagler Associates.

Today, the Seminole Tribe requested it be allowed to submit an amicus curia brief in support of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and his legal counsel’s request to dismiss West Flagler’s writ of quo warranto with the Florida Supreme Court to strip the online sports betting language out of the state’s 2021 gaming compact.

The tribe submitted its 33-page amicus curiae brief and it has been accepted by the Florida Supreme Court.

Tribe Wants Its Opinion To Be Heard

Barry Richard and Joseph H. Webster, legal counsel for the tribe, noted in the brief that the tribe has significant interest in the West Flagler lawsuit and “believes the court would benefit from the Tribe’s participation.”

In the 33-page brief, the Seminole Tribe argues that West Flagler’s request of a writ of quo warranto to invalidate a Florida statute should be denied, as it is “untimely, unwarranted, and impermissible.”

The 2021 Florida Gaming Compact dictates that, for purposes of Florida law, the placement of wagers off tribal land is deemed to occur on the tribe’s land where they are accepted, the tribe notes.

“Thus, the wagers are considered to be placed on tribal lands both to carry out a regulatory allocation of jurisdiction pursuant to IGRA, and to authorize their placement as a matter of law, as long as they are permitted under the 2021 Compact,” counsel wrote in the brief.

Online sports betting can be included in an IGRA compact, counsel wrote, because the bet is accepted, processed, paid, and regulated on the tribe’s lands. The initial bet occurring off the tribe’s lands is “directly related to the game activity occurring on the tribe’s land.”

“The D.C. Circuit acknowledge this was sufficient to permit the Secretary of the Interior to approve the 2021 compact. The D.C. Circuit held the placement of online sports betting wagers is an activity that is ‘directly related to the operation of the tribe’s sports book, and thus falls within the scope of’ subjects that may be included in an IGRA compact,” they noted.

West Flagler Fails To Meet Standards

Legal counsel for the tribe argues that West Flagler Associates has failed to “meet the high standard for demonstration a Florida law is unconstitutional.”

According to the tribe, West Flagler falls short of the high bar required for a court to annul a statute passed by the legislature, as it does not prove that “it positively and certainly is opposed to the Constitution.”

IGRA specifically authorized compacts to cover activity off Indian lands, they wrote.

So What Happens Now?

With the decision to accept the brief, West Flagler now has until Dec. 21 to file its response. After West Flagler submits its response, the case will be decided by the Florida Supreme Court.

West Flagler’s recent request for an extension to file a lawsuit with the Supreme Court of the United States was granted last week, giving the petitioners until Feb. 8, 2024, to file a suit with SCOTUS. West Flagler argued that it could not file a complete petition with SCOTUS without first knowing the outcome of its lawsuit with the Florida Supreme Court.

The Seminole Tribe will likely continue to offer online sports betting throughout the state while the lawsuits are being determined. It recently launched in-person sports betting at its Florida casinos earlier this week on Thursday, Dec. 7.

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