The situation for the Seminole Tribe of Florida has gotten even worse, as a federal judge issued a formal refusal to put on hold a ruling that constituted its compact with the state as illegal.
In a 5-page order, US District Judge Dabney Friedrich rejected a plea of the Seminole Tribe for a stay of her previous ruling that said the deal, which provided the Indian Tribe with the right to offer sports betting services, violated federal law. After that, the Seminoles asked the judge to stay her ruling.
Now, Judge Friedrich denied the stay explaining that such a measure is considered an extraordinary remedy, and the Seminole Tribe of Florida did not meet the requirements to justify such a measure. Furthermore, the rejection also said that the local Indian Tribe has failed to demonstrate a substantial likelihood of success on the proposal’s merits and, on the other hand, has not managed to prove that the court’s decision would cause it irreparable harm.
At the time when she issued the ruling denying the stay motion, Judge Friedrich suggested that the state, tribe, and the Secretary of the US Department of Interior could mitigate the expected negative effect of the court’s decision by approving a new compact that would be in line with federal laws. The most recent ruling of the court did not block other paths that could seek the authorization of online sports betting in the state of Florida, including an initiative started by local citizens and citizen groups.
Latest 30-Year Compact between the State and the Seminole Tribe Faces Heavy Opposition
As part of its latest compact with the state that was signed by the tribe’s Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr. and Governor Ron DeSantis in the spring, the Seminole Tribe of Florida was given control of sports betting services. The local Legislature gave the green light to the agreement during a special session that took place in May, and the US Department of the Interior officially approved the deal in August.
However, a lawsuit against the Secretary of the US Department of Interior, Deb Haaland, was filed by the owners of the pari-mutuel facilities Bonita Springs Poker Room and Magic City Casino who alleged that the contract violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).
Recently, Judge Friedrich issued a ruling, according to which online gambling off-reservation lands violated federal law although the computer servers would be situated on tribal property. The judge’s ruling highlighted the fact that none of the provisions in IGRA regulates gaming in locations other than Indian lands.
New Sports Betting Compact Violates Federal Law, District Court Judge Says
The Seminoles filed a notice of appeal to the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia soon after Judge Friedrich announced her ruling that says the Tribe’s new compact violates the federal law. It started offering online sports betting services at the beginning of November and pointed out that a stay of the ruling would defend the public interest.
According to the motion, the public interest weighs in favor of keeping the current status quo, which aims at allowing an ongoing activity that was permitted under federal, state, and tribal law to remain available for Florida customers until the outcome of the tribe’s appeal is announced.
As CasinoGamesPro previously reported, the Seminole Tribe of Florida received the right to control both retail and online sports betting services and to add some traditional casino games to their casino operations under the provisions of the 30-year compact. In return, the local Indian tribe agreed to pay the state no less than $2.5 billion over the first five years of sports betting operation.
According to the motion for a stay, the Tribe paid $37.5 million to the state of Florida in October 2021 and a further $37.5 million in November 2021. It states that if the Seminole Tribe is not allowed to operate under its 2021 compact, this would result in multi-million-dollar revenue losses for the state, while the local people would face serious economic impact.