When you sign-up through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more >

Department of Interior Urges Court to Reject West Flagler Florida Case

Written by: Michael Savio
Published September 7, 2023
6 min read
Court West Flagler Florida Case

The US Department of Interior (DOI) took a rare step this week when they publicly rebuked a Florida sports betting case. The federal agency asked an appellate court to reject a request from West Flagler Associates (WFA) to review their case. WFA has been in a legal battle over sports betting rights in the state, which has put the industry on pause. They lost another appeal over the summer but recently filed an en banc petition, which would lead to a review by all 11 members of the circuit court.

West Flagler represents two pari-mutuel brick-and-mortar businesses that want to offer sports betting. They believe that Florida created a monopoly by handing the sole rights to operate the industry to the Seminole Tribe. WFA also maintains that the state misinterpreted the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRC) in doing so.

While the judge reviewing the petition had requested a statement from both parties, the DOI took the unusual step of submitting their own opinion. In that statement, the federal agency claims that West Flagler is using a “strawman” argument to keep the case in federal court. The agency approved Florida’s gaming compact in 2021, which has been central to this legal battle.

“[The arguments] are strawmen, premised on its erroneous assertion that, by referencing the state-sanctioned wagers, the [gaming] compact — and the Secretary’s approval thereof — purport to unilaterally legalize the placement of those wagers and the state regime for regulating them.” The DOI said in their statement to the court, “[The appellate court] correctly held that the Secretary had no duty to disapprove the compact for the straightforward and fact-specific reason that the compact can, and therefore must, be read in a way that is consistent with IGRA.”

All Eyes Will be on the Final Ruling

While the ruling on the en banc hearing may not officially end the legal challenge, it will make it nearly impossible for West Flagler to win. It will also signal to other states (and Tribes) that this type of gaming compact can achieve federal approval. That will immediately affect the state of Washington, which is dealing with a similar legal challenge

Aside from the national impact, the ruling could affect whether sports betting can go live in Florida in time for the NFL season. That is the busiest time for sportsbooks across the country, and it has led to massive tax revenue for states. Florida is expected to rival New York as the top sports betting market, meaning the revenue they would miss would total in the tens of millions.

Image for Michael Savio


Michael Savio

412 Articles

Michael is an avid sports fan and a veteran bettor from Milwaukee. He learned the trade from his grandfather in Las Vegas as a kid and has turned that into a successful career. He cheers for all Wisconsin pro teams along with his Alma Mater Arizona State. He specializes in baseball betting, but has experience in football, basketball, and hockey as well. When he isn’t pouring over stats, he’s spending time with his two young children.

More info on Michael Savio
We've been featured on:
espn logo
reuters logo
cbs-news logo
forbes logo
entrepreneur logo
entrepreneur logo
We only list licensed sportsbooks

© Rebel Penguin ApS 2024 (a subsidiary of Gaming Innovation Group Inc.)

We support responsible gambling. 21+ Only. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-Gambler.

WSN.com is run by iGaming Cloud Inc (a Gaming Innovation Group Subsidiary) and is registered with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) under affiliate vendor ID 89744, with the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) under certificate of registration number SWR-000148, approved by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board as a gaming service provider, under certificate registration number 117656-1, possesses a Vendor Minor sports betting license from the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission (account number 94414163), granted a vendor registration number VR007603-20-001 by the Michigan Gaming Control Board, an interim Sports Wagering Supplier license, under license number SWS 066, issued by the West Virginia Lottery Commission, a sports betting vendor registration, under registration number #100400, issued by the Director of Gaming Licensing and Investigations of the Virginia Lottery to operate in the State of Virginia, and a Vendor Registration issued by the Sports Wagering Committee of the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation.

Advertising disclosure: WSN contains links to online retailers on its website. When people click on our affiliate links and make purchases, WSN earns a commission from our partners, including ESPN and various sportsbooks.