Online sports betting services are set to remain on hold in Florida for some more time, as a South Florida-based company is trying to prevent the state from cementing its compact with the Seminole Tribe.
On Monday, the company – West Flagler Associates – filed a petition for an en banc rehearing of the case in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. A couple of months ago, in June, an appeals court panel ruled in favor of the US Department of the Interior, saying that the Federal Government complied with the rules when it allowed to Seminole Tribe of Florida and the state to enter into an agreement back in 2021.
Under the controversial compact of the Indian Tribe, online gambling will be officially permitted in Florida, provided the servers for the sports betting service were situated on tribal land.
West Flagler Associates claims that the deal breaches the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). However, the appeals court did not back these claims in June. The company now claims that the appellate ruling is based on a mistake and, as a result, would result in confusion. That is why it insists on getting a rehearing. The legal representative of West Flagler Associates tabled a petition to the court, saying that the provision and the overall legislative purpose of the IGRA basically mean that the provision could not be used by Native American nations’ compacts to authorize gaming activities outside reservation lands.
The Gambling Company Ready to Get to the US Supreme Court
As reported above, the company is now insisting on getting an en banc hearing, which is basically a rehearing of a court case before a majority of the active judges, rather than before the regular three-judge panel. Such rehearings are, however, rarely allowed by the full court.
According to legal experts, West Flagler Associates would try to take the case even to the US Supreme Court if necessary.
As explained by a lawyer specializing in gaming law, Daniel Wallach, having court ruling from different federal circuit courts that are obviously clashing with one another, it is the US Supreme Court that eventually grants certiorari review, as they are looking for what is called circuit splits, also known as “split of authority”.
Circuit splits are usually required when it comes to issues of great importance, and West Flagler Associates claims that this is exactly the matter here, because the issue is of great importance to the gambling industry, not only in the state of Florida but nationwide. According to the company, making a ruling on the case could alter the balance of power and greatly affect both Native American nations and non-tribal gaming operators in every state across the US. Legal experts believe this is exactly the reason why the company will make everything possible to make sure the case is considered and possibly reviewed by the US Supreme Court.
Considering the complexity of the situation, even legal experts are currently unable to say when sports betting will finally become available in Florida. Now, they are unsure whether this could happen until 2024.