Floridians will have to wait before online sports betting resumes in the Sunshine State. On Thursday, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts granted the request of two Florida companies seeking to block the Seminole Tribe from restarting Hard Rock Bet Florida.
Roberts’ decision to grant a stay to West Flagler Associates and Bonita-Fort Myers Corp. is a temporary one. Per his one-page order, he called on U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and the department to respond no later than next Wednesday. The companies filed their request with the court last week, and it was docketed Wednesday.
The plaintiffs sued Haaland and the Interior Department two years ago after federal officials deemed the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s gaming compact as approved. While a federal district court sided with West Flagler and Bonita-Fort Myers, that decision was overturned by a federal appeals court earlier this year.
The stay keeps the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia from sending its mandate to D.C. U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich to overturn her November 2021 ruling and uphold the compact.
In a filing that became available Wednesday, West Flagler Associates and Bonita-Fort Myers Corp. asked the nation’s top court to stay the federal appeals court mandate as they continue to work on their request for the Supreme Court to review the Florida sports betting apps case, which they said would be filed within the next six weeks.
“Absent a stay, the compact will give rise to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of sports betting transactions that violate both state and federal law before this Court has the opportunity to address the merits,” the filing stated. “The Circuit Opinion enables a dramatic change in public policy on legalized gaming that, once started, may be difficult to stop.”
About The Compact
The tribe, which operates land-based casino gaming on its lands in central and southern parts of the state, launched its online sports book in November 2021, but suspended operations shortly after U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich ruled the U.S. Department of the Interior should not have approved the compact.
Besides the online sports betting language, the compact also allowed the tribe to offer retail sportsbooks at its casinos, authorized the tribe’s casinos to offer roulette and dice-based table games and approved the construction of up to three new additional casinos in South Florida. The state also gave the tribe the ability to partner with commercial pari-mutuel gaming operators, allowing them to offer Florida sports betting at the facilities in exchange for a share of the proceeds.
Two-Front Legal Battle
The U.S. Supreme Court is not the only court that may decide this case. West Flagler and Bonita-Fort Myers have also filed a lawsuit in the Florida Supreme Court against DeSantis and state legislative leaders, arguing their approval of the compact and a subsequent state law legalizing sports betting violate the state constitution. Voters five years ago ratified an amendment that requires a popular vote for any casino gaming initiative happening outside of tribal lands.
State and tribal leaders have argued that the compact is valid since the servers for online gaming that would process and accept wagers would be based on tribal lands.
Keep visiting FloridaBet.com for the latest developments in this important case and when Florida sports betting may become legal again in the state. We will be sure to have all the best Florida sportsbook promo codes the minute they become available.