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Florida Sports Betting Compact With Seminoles Struck Down

Florida Sports Betting Compact With Seminoles Struck Down article feature image

Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images. Pictured: The Florida State Capitol building.

Sports gambling in Florida has come to a halt in just three weeks after a judge ruled that the compact forged between the state and the Seminole Tribe was illegal.

In a decision rendered late Monday, federal judge Dabney Friedrich agreed with plaintiff West Flagler Associates, which owns casinos in the state, that the decision to allow the Seminole Tribe (partnered with Hard Rock) to offer mobile sports betting to people when they are not on tribal land violates the provisions of the Indian Gaming Regulation Act. 

Sports betting lawyer Dan Wallach said the decision was a no brainer and was surprised that agreement put together with the blessing of the U.S. Department of Interior was allowed to be forged to begin with. 

“It’s obvious to any law school student, if you divorce the political realities going on here, that 100 out of 100 times, they’d call what was done illegal,” Wallach said.

Three years ago, Florida voters soundly turned down the right of the state to authorize sports gambling on its own after Disney and the Seminole Tribe spent more than $20 million each on campaigns to give the state freedom to so. 

Earlier this year, the Seminole Tribe then sought to get sports betting for themselves by doing its own deal with the state legislature and getting approval the from the Department of Interior. The deal was formalized in August and the Seminole Tribe started taking bets on Nov. 1. 

The deal that was struck? A promise to pay Florida at least $2.5 billion over the first five years for having the monopolistic power. 

While the deal has been struck down, Florida residents could place bets this morning, but it’s expected to be cut off soon. Also expected? An appeal from the Department of the Interior with the Seminole Tribe in tow. 

But what Wallach, who was one of the few to call this, anticipates is that Florida won’t be able to have online sports gambling until a referendum is passed by a 60 percent vote. Unlike in 2018, when sports betting was legal in a few states for a couple months, the marketing power of FanDuel and DraftKings might be insurmountable, but then the Seminole tribe won’t have the monopoly they so craved. 

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