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Florida Sports Betting Pause to Continue as West Flagler Appeals Court Decision

Written by: Michael Savio
Published August 16, 2023
6 min read
Florida Sports Betting Court Decision

Florida sports betting was once again put on pause Monday as West Flagler Associates filed for a rehearing of their case against the state. West Flagler, the plaintiff, has been battling Florida in court over its decision to award the Seminole Tribe sole rights for sports betting in the state. That makes the Hard Rock brand, which the Tribe owns, the sole operator within the Sunshine State. Flagler has argued that the market should be open to all operators, which has led to a legal showdown the industry is watching closely.

At the center of this battle is the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), which Florida used to give sports betting rights to the Seminole Tribe. The 1998 Act was created to allow Tribes to offer gambling on their lands, paving the way for casinos. When sports betting was legalized in the state, Florida stated that the Act also covers sports betting. Conversely, West Flagler believes Florida is misinterpreting the law. They insist that since online sports betting would take place outside of Tribal lands, the law would not apply. 

“As shown by both the plain text of this provision and the overall legislative purpose of IGRA, this provision cannot reasonably be read to allow IGRA compacts to contain provisions that on their face seek to authorize gaming activities off of Indian lands,” West Flagler’s petition stated.

Florida Was Just One Week Away From Re-Launch

Florida was all set to officially re-launch sports betting on August 21, but that date will now be pushed until this legal challenge is resolved. West Flagler initially won their first legal challenge, which put sports betting on hold in Florida soon after its launch. That ruling was overturned by an Appeals Court last month but had until August 14 to petition to re-hear the case. Now that they have, sports betting likely won’t live in Florida until 2024.

Case Could Alter Sports Betting Nationwide

While this case only covers Florida’s sports betting rights, the rest of the country will watch it closely. If Florida and the Seminole Tribe win, it will open the door for Tribes in other states to argue for sports betting rights based on the ruling. That would start with Washington, where a legal battle over the same issue has recently escalated. It could also change the sports betting debate in California, where Tribes have blocked the industry. 

Regardless of the outcome, this case will be cited in future lawsuits for years to come.

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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.

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