President Biden’s Administration has called for an appeals court to reinstate a previously-announced deal that provided the Seminole Tribe of Florida with control over sports betting services in the state, almost nine months after a judge from Washington D.C. ruled that federal law was violated by the 30-year agreement of the Native American nation with the state.
Earlier this week, a brief from the US Department of the Interior defended the decision of the President’s Administration to allow the gambling compact to go into effect. The agreement, which was signed by Marcellus Osceola Jr., Chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida and Governor Ron DeSantis and ratified by the state’s Legislature in 2021, paved the way for the addition of legal sports betting services in the third-most populous US state.
Under the provisions of the compact, the Seminole Tribe of Florida would be given the chance to offer online sports betting services, with the wagers run through computer servers situated on tribal land. The deal would have officialized online sports betting operations in the state, with this exact form of gambling set to be offered exclusively by the Seminole Tribe.
As previously reported by CasinoGamesPro, the owners of Southwest Florida-based Bonita Springs Poker Room and Magic City Casino in Miami-Dade County started legal action, alleging that the aforementioned deal violated federal laws and would have an extremely negative effect on their businesses.
Interior Secretary Violated the Federal Indian Gaming regulatory Act, US District Court Judge Says
In November 2021, the US District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich ruled that the compact violated the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which regulates gambling on tribal lands because it legalized gambling outside the tribe’s reservation. In addition, she invalidated other parts of the agreement, saying that Interior Secretary Deb Haaland improperly gave the green light to the deal in the summer of 2021.
Ms. Haaland’s lawyers, however, claimed that the US District Court Judge was wrong because the deal only allowed gambling on tribal lands, which is why the Interior Secretary was required to give it the green light. According to her legal representatives, the Interior Secretary has neither duty nor authority to reject a compact that validly allows gambling on tribal lands only because the agreement itself also says that special legislation allowing individuals outside Indian lands to take part in such gambling services would be enacted by the state.
Apart from providing the Seminole Tribe of Florida with the exclusive right to offer sports betting services in the state, the deal between the Native American tribe and the state’s Governor also allowed the Seminoles to expand their casino offering with games such as roulette and craps. Furthermore, the tribe would be permitted to add three casinos to their Broward County-based property.
In exchange for the exclusive right to offer sports betting services in Florida, the Seminole Tribe had to pay a minimum of $2.5 million over the first five years of the new form of gambling’s operation, with the amount possibly rising to a few billion over the 30-year span of the deal.