ORLANDO, Fla. – A federal appeals court will not rehear a case intended to stop online sports betting in Florida, but whether that means sports betting is finally coming to the Sunshine State is not clear.
West Flagler Associates has been trying to stop a state compact with the Seminole Tribe that would allow online sports betting on tribal lands. Back in June an appeals court panel sided with the U.S. Department of the Interior that the federal government followed the rules when it allowed the Seminole Tribe to enter into a compact with the state of Florida in 2021.
West Flagler Associates filed a petition for an en banc hearing, which would have brought the case before the full appeals court circuit in Washington.
However, it is rare that an appeals court grants an en banc hearing, and Monday the court denied this request.
That leaves West Flagler Associates with two options — petition the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case, or turn to the state courts.
The 2021 Florida Compact with the Seminole Tribe allowed online gaming in Florida, provided the servers for the sports betting were located on tribal land. The Department of the Interior allowed the compact to move forward.
West Flagler Associates sued the Interior Dept., saying the deal violated the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
Daniel Wallach, an attorney specializing in gaming law, told News 6 in June that he thought that if West Flagler Associates petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court, it could take the case. He says previous appellate court rulings disagreed with the DC court, and that circuit court split is enticing for Supreme Court justices.
“Now we have one and we have an issue that is of great importance to the gambling industry, not only in Florida, but this is a decision that can alter the balance of power and impact tribes and non-tribal gaming operators in virtually every state, so it has the hallmarks of the type of case the United States Supreme Court would consider reviewing,” Wallach said.
If West Flagler Associates does decide to file a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court, Wallach says it could be another year before we know if and when online sports betting will open in Florida.
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