Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is seeking additional time to respond to a legal challenge aimed at overturning the exclusive sports betting rights granted to the Seminole Tribe. DeSantis’ move comes as he faces mounting pressure in the ongoing legal battle.
In a motion filed recently, the legal representatives for the governor and state legislative leaders have requested an extension until December 1 to prepare their response to the gambling companies behind the challenge. Led by West Flagler Associates, a pari-mutuel operator, these companies have brought the case to the Florida Supreme Court, seeking to invalidate the tribal gaming compact signed by DeSantis in 2021. This compact enables the Seminole Tribe to operate sportsbooks at their casinos and accept mobile sports wagers from anyone in Florida, as long as the betting servers are located on tribal land.
The governor’s request for more time follows a recent move by a local anti-gambling group, No Casinos Inc., which submitted a brief in support of West Flagler’s petition. It’s worth noting that No Casinos received a 10-day extension to file their amicus brief, and the court had previously indicated that the government could also seek an extension.
The Florida Attorney General’s office justified the request for an extension by highlighting the significant workload and 16 pending cases in both state and federal courts where state filings are due in the next two weeks. Considering that the challenged compact went into effect in 2021, and West Flagler only brought the case to state court last month, the state’s attorneys argue that an additional delay would not impede the proceedings. West Flagler agreed to a seven-day extension, as noted in the motion.
The Florida Supreme Court is expected to decide on whether to grant the extension in the coming days. Regardless of the state-level legal developments, legal sports betting in Florida remains on hold due to a federal legal case.
West Flagler has been challenging the gaming compact in federal court since its inception, and the case has now reached the US Supreme Court. Chief Justice John Roberts recently issued a stay on a lower court ruling, which would have allowed the compact to take effect, in order to give the high court time to consider whether to take the case.
The case’s fate hinges on the Department of the Interior’s role in reviewing gaming compacts, like the one between the Seminoles and Florida, to ensure compliance with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. If the department takes no action on submitted gaming compacts within 45 days, they are considered approved, as was the case in 2021 when Florida submitted its revised agreement with the tribe.
West Flagler and its allies argue that the Interior Department has a responsibility to reject the compact because it allows tribes to accept online bets placed anywhere in the state, not just on tribal land. However, the Interior Department contends that its authority only covers gaming that takes place on tribal land and that the off-reservation sports betting specified in the compact falls outside its jurisdiction. This debate underscores the complex legal terrain surrounding sports betting in Florida, with the courts serving as the ultimate arbiters.
Last Updated on October 21, 2023