Florida Sports Betting Faces New Hurdle With Latest Court Filing

Florida Sports Betting Faces New Hurdle With Latest Court Filing article feature image

Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images. Pictured: The Florida Supreme Court building

The fight over legal sports betting in Florida took yet another turn Tuesday as two parimutuels have taken their legalization battle against the Seminole Tribe to the Florida Supreme Court.

In a "writ quo warranto" filing, West Flagler and Associates are seeking a declaration that Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state legislature exceeded their authority by approving a 2021 compact with the Seminole Tribe that granted the tribe a monopoly on sports betting.

This filing doesn't immediately impact the potential launch of the Seminole Tribe's Hard Rock Bet platform in the state given the ongoing federal case and an impending U.S. Supreme Court appeal. However, West Flagler's legal actions aim to keep Hard Rock Bet offline for the foreseeable future.

The filing outlines not only the alleged overreach of lawmakers in their decision but also the legal mechanisms for expanding gaming in Florida. In 2018, 70% of state voters approved Amendment 3, which required any expansion to be via a constitutional amendment voted on by the state's citizens.

The 2021 compact sought to circumvent this requirement, and lawmakers were aware that their approval of the compact in a special session could lead to legal action.

The filing details how Florida voters have historically played a role in gambling expansion, including approving a 1986 amendment for a state lottery and a 2004 amendment for slot machines in select parimutuel facilities.

The compact itself recognized the possibility of legal challenges by allowing for the severability of certain sections.

Legal experts suggest that West Flagler's attempt in Florida is unlikely to succeed because the case has less merit than the federal lawsuit. However, it could keep the Seminoles sidelined for some time, as constitutional law professor Bob Jarvis of Nova Southeastern told Sports Handle. The Florida Supreme Court may choose not to hear the case.

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