The Florida Supreme Court ruled late Friday afternoon to give an anti-gaming expansion group more time to file its brief in a case regarding online sports betting in the Sunshine State.
The decision to give No Casinos a 10-day extension to file its argument might lead to additional extensions for submissions. Lawyers for Gov. Ron DeSantis and state lawmakers did not oppose the submission of an amicus brief, but questioned the need for an extension as it was initially due Friday.
The attorneys argued that if No Casinos were to receive an extension, then they would want one, too, for their response, which is currently due Nov. 1. Justices noted in their Friday ruling they would consider such a request. No Casinos' brief is now due next Monday, which will provide the latest chapter in this Florida sports betting saga.
Group Opposes Sports Betting
No Casinos is filing the brief in support of the lawsuit filed last month by West Flagler Associates and Bonita-Fort Myers Corp. They claim that Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Legislature approved a gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida that violates the state constitution, which voters amended five years ago to require their approval for any gaming expansion off tribal lands. The compact gives the Tribe exclusive statewide control of online sports betting.
The gaming compact was signed two years ago and deemed approved by the U.S. Department of the Interior. West Flagler, which operated the Magic City Casino at the time, and Bonita-Fort Myers, which continues to operate the Bonita Springs Poker Room, filed a federal lawsuit after the federal approval, arguing, among other things, that the compact was illegal since it authorized gaming off tribal lands.
A federal district judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in November 2021 and threw out the gaming compact. However, a federal appeals court in late June of this year overturned that ruling. West Flagler and Bonita-Fort Myers are working on an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Federal Court Also Takes Action Friday
No Casinos getting an extension wasn’t the only legal action taking place on Friday. In addition, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia officially issued its mandate to the U.S. District Court in D.C. requiring U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich to vacate her ruling that barred the compact from being enforced.
When Friedrich issues the ruling upholding the compact, it could open the door for the tribe to resume operations. The Seminoles launched Hard Rock Sportsbook - now Hard Rock Bet Florida - in Florida in November 2021 but suspended it shortly after Friedrich’s ruling. Seminole leaders have declined to comment during the court battle, although Hard Rock’s social media team has alluded to a potential restart several times in recent months.
The tribe, though, might choose to wait until there’s a final resolution in the federal case. That might not happen until the Supreme Court either declines to take the case or makes a ruling.
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