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West Flagler Denied Motion of Stay For Florida Sports Betting Mandate

Robert Linnehan

by Robert Linnehan in Sports Betting News

Updated Sep 28, 2023 · 10:17 AM PDT

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  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia today denied a request from West Flagler Associates to stay the court’s mandate for Florida sports betting
  • West Flagler Associates will now likely file an emergency application for stay with the Supreme Court of the United States
  • It’s unknown if the Seminole Tribe will choose to launch sports betting or wait for open lawsuits to conclude

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia today denied West Flagler Associates’ request for a stay of the court’s Florida sports betting mandate.

The decision from the D.C. Circuit Court has potentially opened a window for the Seminole Tribe to launch Florida sports betting, as the court’s mandate affirming a 2021 gaming compact that legalizes retail and online sports betting for the Seminole Tribe will soon go into effect.

However, with West Flagler recently filing a lawsuit with the Florida Supreme Court to invalidate the online sports betting language in the gaming compact, and making its intentions known that it will also petition the Supreme Court to hear its case, it seems as if the Seminole Tribe might be waiting until their conclusion before taking any action.

“It’s another positive development, but it will have no immediate effect on the Seminole Tribe’s plans,” a Seminole Tribe spokesperson told Sports Betting Dime.

D.C. Circuit Court Chapter Now Closed

The D.C. Circuit Court denied West Flagler’s stay request in a one-page response.

“Upon consideration of appellees’ motion to stay issuance of the mandate pending the Supreme Court’s disposition of a petition for writ of certiorari or, in the alternative, to stay issuance of the mandate for a reasonable time to permit appellees to seek a stay from the Supreme Court, and the opposition thereto, it is ordered that the motion be denied,” the court wrote in its order.

It’s expected that West Flagler will now file an emergency application for stay with the Supreme Court of the United States pending submission of a writ of certiorari to hear the case with SCOTUS.

With this final ruling, it likely ends the role of the D.C. Circuit Court in this matter.

A three-judge panel at the D.C. Circuit Court overruled a 2021 ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Dabney L. Friedrich that declared  gaming compact violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).

The gaming compact was thrown out by Friedrich in November 2021. Ultimately, Friedrich determined the compact violated the conditions set forth by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) that limits tribal gaming to the confines of tribal lands. The Seminole Tribe argued in the gaming compact that because the servers that processed the online sports bets were located on tribal land, then the bets themselves were placed on tribal lands.

The three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the the District of Columbia disagreed with her ruling.

The D.C. Circuit Court also denied West Flagler’s request for an en banc hearing, which would have put the issue before all 11 judges of the court, back in September.

Florida Supreme Court Challenge Still Awaits

Another potential venue awaits as West Flagler Associates and Bonita-Fort Meyers Corporation earlier this week filed a lawsuit with the Florida Supreme Court to invalidate the online sports betting language in the state’s approved 2021 gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe.

The lawsuit was filed on Monday, Sept. 25, with the Florida Supreme Court around 11:30 p.m. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is named as the other party in the petition.

Raquel A. Rodriguez of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC, counsel representing West Flagler in this Florida Supreme Court petition, wrote that the approved 2021 gaming compact between Florida and the Seminole Tribe, which included online sports betting exclusivity for the Seminole Tribe, violates Amendment 3 of the Florida Constitution. Florida voters approved the amendment in 2018, which declares that voters have the “exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling in the State of Florida.”

In the petition, West Flagler asserts that the “implementing law” authorizing the off-reservation sports betting provision of the compact expanded casino gambling throughout the state, not just tribal lands.

“Under the Florida Constitution, the people must approve any new casino gambling in the state through the citizens’ initiative process — the off-reservation sports betting provisions of the 2021 compact and the off-reservation portions of the implementing law violate Article X, Section 30 of the Florida Constitution. Neither the governor nor the legislature can expand gambling in Florida in derogation of the people’s constitutional final say,” Rodriguez wrote in the petition.

The petition notes that Gov. DeSantis exceeded his authority by entering into a compact that granted the Seminole Tribe exclusive rights to offer off-reservation online and in-person sports betting throughout the state.

If the Florida Supreme Court believes the lawsuit establishes a preliminary basis for relief it will order DeSantis and the state to craft a response to West Flagler’s lawsuit. According to Daniel Wallach, a gaming law attorney, Founder of Wallach Legal and UNHLaw Sports Wagering, the deadline for such a response is typically 20 to 30 days.

West Flagler would then have 30 days to respond to the state’s submission.

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