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West Flagler Asks Florida Supreme Court to Pause on Online Sports Betting

Written by: Michael Savio
Published March 12, 2024
6 min read
Florida Supreme Court

Online sports betting in Florida is again facing a challenge that could put it on hold. West Flagler Associates, a group representing pari-mutuel and poker room operators in the Sunshine State, is again challenging the current gaming compact. They are requesting that the Florida Supreme Court put online sports betting on hold as they consider their legal challenge.

West Flagler’s main argument against the current gaming compact is that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) was incorrectly applied. The IGRA allows federally recognized tribes to offer and control gaming on casino grounds. West Flagler argues that online sports betting does not fall under the IGRA since it is done almost entirely off tribal lands. 

In addition to the IGRA issue, West Flagler accuses the state of circumventing the Florida Constitution by approving the gaming compact without a public referendum. They believe this was done dishonestly, allowing them to hand the Seminole Tribe a monopoly over sports betting in the state.

“Through this artifice, the Compact transparently attempts to get around the Florida Constitution,” one of West Flagler’s attorneys said. “The whole point of the Compact is to provide a hook for dodging Florida’s constitutional requirement of a popular referendum to approve off-reservation sports betting.”

The state and Governor Ron DeSantis have insisted that the gaming compact was done correctly. They argue that the IGRA and the constitutional requirement for a referendum do not apply since sports betting differs from casino gaming. Florida’s lawyers point to several federal rulings over this matter, which went in their favor at the highest levels of US courts.

“As an important source of revenue for both the Seminole Tribe and the State — and even the Tribe’s competitors — the 2021 compact serves the public interest and has been upheld in federal court," attorneys for DeSantis and the legislative leaders told Florida’s top court.

Florida Gaming Compact Has Been Under First Since 2021

While this will be the Florida Supreme Court’s first review of the legal challenge against the state’s gaming compact, the battle has been raging for years. West Flagler was able to have Florida online sports betting put on hold as they made challenges in federal courts. However, a series of losses at the highest courts in the country opened the door for sports betting to return late in 2023. 

The US Supreme Court could still hear West Flagler’s federal challenge, but it does not seem likely they will take significant action. Given rulings from lower courts and the gaming compact’s staunch support from the US Department of the Interior, it would take a major revelation for them to step in and overturn the compact.

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Michael Savio

434 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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