Fight over sports betting in Florida now heading to state Supreme Court

Companies say governor violated Florida Constitution

Gov. DeSantis signed the compact with the Seminole Tribe in 2021.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The groups who have been suing to stop the Seminole Tribe from implementing sports betting in Florida have now taken their case to the Florida Supreme Court.

West Flagler Associates and Bonita-Fort Myers Corporation filed a petition Tuesday to get the state high court to stop the Tribe from implementing online sports betting as part of the 2021 compact the Tribe made with the State of Florida.

The plaintiffs are suing Gov. Ron DeSantis, House Speaker Paul Renner and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo. They say DeSantis exceeded his authority by agreeing to the compact, claiming it violates a 2018 constitutional amendment approved by voters. It requires that any expansion of gambling in the state must be done by constitutional amendment, except on tribal land.

DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe contended that since the servers that would handle the online sports betting were going to be housed on tribal land, the compact followed the amendment.

The plaintiffs originally tried to get the federal courts to stop the compact, saying U.S. Interior Secretary Deborah Haaland shouldn’t have signed off on the compact under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. But in June, a federal appeals court ruled that Haaland acted appropriately.

In addition to the lawsuit in the Florida Supreme Court, the plaintiffs are asking the federal appeals court to issue a stay while it seeks to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

West Flagler Associates operated the Magic City Casino in Miami until recently. Bonita-Fort Myers Corporation operates the Bonita Springs Poker Room.

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Christie joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021.