The Seminole Tribe of Florida managed to win a major victory in its sports betting monopoly case after a federal appeals court ordered the US Department of Interior to reinstate the Seminoles’ agreement with the state of Florida. Under the agreement, the Native American tribe was given exclusive rights to offer sports betting services, along with casino games such as craps and roulette, across the state.
As CasinoGamesPro previously reported, the litigation began when the Seminole Tribe started offering a sportsbook service in Florida on November 1st, 2021. Less than a month later, a federal judge issued a ruling that the gambling agreement between the state and the tribe breached federal gambling laws. The ruling eventually resulted in the shutdown of the Seminole Tribe’s sports betting operation.
Most recently, a three-judge panel of the District of Columbia Circuit’s US Court of Appeals unanimously decided to reverse the original ruling of the lower court. The decision stated that the state of Florida was allowed to enter into a 30-year compact with the Seminole Tribe under the federal gaming law to allow the Native American nation to exclusively offer sports betting services in the state. Under the provisions of the compact, the Seminoles were also required to pay a minimum of $2.5 billion to the state over the course of the first five years of the agreement.
The ruling of the US Court of Appeals now allows the tribe to resume the operation of its Hard Rock Sportsbook application and potentially establish two new casino venues in South Florida. However, some of the anti-gambling campaigners in the state have shared their concerns, saying that the higher court’s ruling could result in further litigation based on the provisions of Florida’s Constitution, under which special voter approval is required for gambling expansion within the state.
Reinstatement of Seminoles’ Sports Betting Monopoly Could Result in Further Litigation
As previously reported, the Seminole Tribe of Florida was allowed to offer sports betting services outside of its tribal lands in case the servers were situated within its reservation. These provisions of the tribe’s compact, however, raised some questions on whether the agreement was in line with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). Despite the previous decision of the lower court, the Court of Appeals ruled that Native American tribes were permitted to accept sports wagers remotely, as long as the sports betting is carried out on tribal lands.
Any questions about whether wagers placed outside tribal lands within the state of Florida are legal would be left for the state courts to decide on.
The administration of Governor Ron DeSantis welcomed the recent ruling of the US Court of Appeals and once again confirmed that it remained committed to partnering with the Seminole Tribe to make sure the historic compact is successfully enacted. According to preliminary projections, the state of Florida could receive tribal gaming revenue of more than $20 billion over the 30-year compact with the Seminoles.
The recent decision of the higher court could open the door to further litigation, gambling market experts say. Some of them believe a potential US Supreme Court battle over the scope and interpretation of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act could occur in the weeks and months to come.