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A federal appeals court ruling from Friday re-opened the door for online sports betting in the Sunshine State. The Court was reviewing a case involving the Seminole Tribe’s rights to online sports betting in the state. The state of Florida and the US Secretary of the Interior approved a deal in 2021 that granted the Tribe rights to run online sports betting in the state. The state legislature signed and ratified the agreement, and the Tribe opened the Hard Rock Sportsbook mobile app.
The app did not last long, as the Magic City Casino and Bonita Springs Poker Room sued the state to block the deal, arguing that the public should have voted on it before being signed into law. US District Judge Dabney Friedrich ruled that the plan violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which she said only allows the Tribes to control gaming from their own land. Freidrich’s ruling put a hold on the new sports betting plan and suspended the Hard Rock Sportsbook mobile app.
On Friday, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of the State and Seminole Tribe by overturning Friedrich’s decision.
“While we are not surprised the lower court’s perplexing ruling was unanimously overturned, this is great news for Florida,” Governor spokesman Jason Mahon said of the ruling. “We will continue working with the Seminole Tribe of Florida to ensure the success of this historic compact -– the largest gaming compact in U.S. history -– which will lead to over $20 billion in revenues for the people of Florida.”
The State and Seminole have clarified that they’d like to launch the industry soon, but it may not be that easy. Opponents of the deal have argued that it violated a 2018 Constitutional amendment that states any expansion of gambling much is placed on a statewide ballot. While the appeals court read that amendment differently than the District Judge, the Supreme Court could have a different take.
Expect to see this ruling appealed to the country’s highest court, as this ruling could see other states make similar deals. A Supreme Court ruling could affect the future landscape of sports betting in Florida and across the US.
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
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