Federal Judge Halts Florida Mobile Sports Betting, Tosses Amended Seminole Compact

  • Monday, US District Judge Dabney Friedrich Nullified Seminole Compact
  • Lawsuit Filed by Two Pari-mutuel Operators Claimed Compact Violated IGRA
  • Judge Rules: “The State and the Tribe May Agree to a New Compact”

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Monday, US District Judge Dabney Friedrich Nullified Seminole Compact

With a surprising twist of an ongoing story that we have been covering extensively, Monday a federal judge essentially tossed the amended gaming compact between the Seminole Tribe of Florida and state officials, deciding to nullify it completely.

Late Monday evening, US District Court Judge Dabney L. Friedrich released an opinion that essentially killed the entire 30-year Florida gaming compact that gave the Seminole Tribe exclusive rights to the online and retail sports betting market in Florida.

So now those operations should stop, at least for the moment, a market that only just started amid little fanfare less than a month ago, and also as a result of this ruling, the Seminole Gaming will no longer be permitted to offer roulette and dice games at any of its Florida tribal casinos.

Major blows to a lucrative market whose taxed revenue benefits residents of the state.

Lawsuit Filed by Two Pari-mutuel Operators Claimed Compact Violated IGRA

Friedrich sided with Magic City Casino and Bonita Springs Poker Room, the two pari-mutuel operators who filed the lawsuit in the District of Columbia federal court three months ago, the Judge’s ruling based on the idea that the compact was, in essence, illegal:

The Court will hold that the Compact violates IGRA and grant the West Flagler plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment.

According to Friedrich, by allowing mobile sports wagers to be placed from anywhere in the state so long as the computer servers that handle the action are located on tribal land, the amended compact violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).

That so-called hub and spoke model broke the law that limits tribal gaming to the confines of tribal lands as well as gave the Seminole Tribe a monopoly on mobile sports betting in Florida, as Friedrich stated in her ruling:

And although the Compact ‘deem[s]’ all sports betting to occur at the location of the Tribe’s ‘sportsbook(s)’ and supporting servers … this Court cannot accept that fiction. When a federal statute authorizes an activity only at specific locations, parties may not evade that limitation by “deeming” their activity to occur where it, as a factual matter, does not.

Basically, a bet is placed wherever the bettor is, says Friedrich, so any new compact must take that into consideration.

Judge Rules: “The State and the Tribe May Agree to a New Compact”

There is hope since Judge Friedrich included some options in here ruling, including going back to the drawing board and creating an entirely new compact:

This decision does not foreclose other avenues for authorizing online sports betting in Florida. The State and the Tribe may agree to a new compact, with the Secretary’s approval, that allows online gaming solely on Indian lands.

But this means that sports betting in Florida is on hold for now, although there is a chance that the ballot initiative backed by FanDuel and DraftKings to open the Sunshine State to numerous online sportsbooks could be debated in the upcoming 2022 state legislative session.

Keep checking back for all the latest news and updates on this ongoing story.

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Mike Lukas

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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]