The latest round in the saga to reinstate sports betting in Florida has been won by the Seminole Hard Rock Casino. An En Banc hearing was requested following the latest defeat by the Magic City Casino and Bonita Springs Poker Room in federal appellate court.
This type of hearing would have required a majority of the judges in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to rehear the case. This motion was denied yesterday, granting the Seminole Tribe of Florida clearance to reopen their in-person, online, and mobile sports betting outlets.
Magic City and Bonita Springs continue to challenge the legality of the state’s gaming compact with the Seminoles. They claim that the agreement is illegal and violates the IGRA (Indian Gaming Regulatory Act) because sports bets can be made from outside Native American lands.
The Seminoles have taken the stance that if the online or mobile bet is placed on a server located at either their Hollywood or Tampa sportsbooks, then the wager took place there and not on the device.
A federal court judge sided with the plaintiffs, but a three-panel bench reversed that decision earlier this year. The higher court ruled that the IRGA does include provisions for gambling on and off tribal lands.
This case brought against the tribe has more to do with Magic City Casino and Bonita Springs Poker Room’s exclusion from the FL sports betting pie as opposed to ethical concerns regarding the compact’s language.
These South Florida gambling entities want in on the action. As it stands, the Hard Rock Sportsbook is the only provider of sports betting in the state.
A victory by the plaintiffs would have only resulted in the negation of the Hard Rock’s ability to provide sports betting. In their eyes, it would even the playing field once again.
As the compact currently stands, both South FL gambling facilities will see a decrease in business due to their lack of a retail sportsbook.
Technically, the Seminoles could have re-opened their Hard Rock Sportsbooks once the Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s decision that the current gaming compact was illegal.
Sportsbook windows in FL remained shuttered because the tribe anticipated the request for the En Banc hearing. The plaintiffs now have one option left, and that is to request a hearing in front of the Supreme Court of the United States.
The potential for an appeal to the SCOTUS may keep sports betting on ice in the Sunshine State indefinitely, but there is potential for wagering to begin on or around September 19th.
However, with the prospect of the Supreme Court looming, the tribe may keep the doors closed until they are certain there are no further legal hurdles to be concerned about.
An announcement regarding the opening of their Tampa or Miami sportsbooks is expected in the coming days.