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Florida Sports Betting Challenge Headed To State Supreme Court

Chief Osceola with flaming spear held above his head

A new case has been filed with the Florida Supreme Court challenging the legality of the current gaming compact between the state and the Seminole Tribe, owners of the Hard Rock Casinos. What’s at stake is the future of sports betting in Florida, at least from an online and mobile standpoint.

Once again, the Bonita Springs Poker Room and the Magic City Casino, two gambling entities that reside near South Beach, are the plaintiffs. After suffering two consecutive losses at the federal appellate court level, they’ve requested that the case be heard in front of the Supreme Court of the United States.

The SCOTUS has yet to declare whether or not they will hear the case, but there’s no rest for the wicked as the challenge has now been submitted before the Florida Supreme Court.

The players are all the same, and so is the argument. Is online and mobile sports betting taking place where the server is located or on the device where the wager was submitted?

The Seminoles argue that the “hub and spoke” operation falls in line with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, and the US District Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, agreed with the tribe.

At first, common belief was that the IGRA did not include provisions for gambling outside of Native American-owned lands, but a panel of three appellate judges found language that supported online and mobile gambling.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida could technically re-open their in-person sportsbooks at the state’s two Hard Rock Casinos in Tampa and Hollywood, but they’ve opted to keep them closed until all legal challenges are concluded.

If both the Florida and US Supreme Courts decline to take up the case, then the appellate ruling from earlier this year will hold, and the plaintiffs will have no further recourse.

For now, the only option for legal sports betting in FL is using an offshore sportsbook site that operates on foreign soil. These online gambling entities skirt local laws via international egaming licenses.

Gamblers located in the Sunshine State are able to access these sports betting sites through any web-ready computer, smartphone, or tablet and place a bet on college or professional games.

If these cases are taken up by either court, it could be several months before a decision is rendered. On the other hand, if the cases are not taken up by either body, domestic sports betting could return within weeks.

There is hope that betting will return prior to Super Bowl 58 next February, but the only thing that’s for sure is nothing is for sure.


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