The twists and turns in the Florida sports betting market continued last week, now with the Supreme Court weighing in. Chief Justice John Robers approved a stay on Seminole sports betting on Thursday, temporarily blocking the tribe from offering online wagering.
A federal appeals court recently upheld the Seminoles’ 2021 updated compact with the state that granted the tribe the right to offer online sports betting in the state. The agreement would allow wagering outside the tribe’s traditional lands.
However, plaintiffs in that case, the Magic City Casino and Bonita Springs Poker Room, have appealed to the highest court and justices may now be considering whether to hear the case.
Florida Sports Betting Hurdles Continue
Gaming experts believe the court may be considering clearing up a discrepancy in rulings at the federal levels, and whether wagering off tribal lands is allowed under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA)
“If SCOTUS grants the requested stay or writ of certiorari, it will be because of the IGRA issue and the conflict among the lower federal courts as to whether IGRA applies to off-reservation tribal gaming activities,” gaming expert and attorney Daniel Wallach noted on Twitter.
Plaintiffs argue that various courts at times have ruled that tribes aren’t allowed to offer online gaming outside of their traditional lands.
“The question of IGRA’s applicability to off-reservation tribal gaming (including online sports betting) has been a hotly debated topic in recent years, as tribes seek to benefit from the repeal of the federal ban on state-authorized sports betting in an increasingly digital gaming environment while, at the same time, being subjected to a federal law that authorizes only land-based gambling,” the plaintiffs argue in court documents.
“Previous interpretations of IRGA – by courts, federal agencies, and even the State of Florida – had made resoundingly clear that IGRA does not apply to gaming activity that occurs off Indian lands.”
Beyond this, the Seminoles also face challenges in state court as well. The plaintiffs argue that the sports betting agreement doesn’t comport with current law after voters approved a 2018 constitutional amendment barring more gaming expansion.
Attorneys for Magic City and Bonita Springs filed a “writ of quo warranto” with the state Supreme Court arguing that the state’s compact update with the Seminoles should be ruled invalid.