A new chapter has now been written in the long saga of legal sports betting in Florida, as Supreme Court Justice John Roberts has implemented a stay on the Sunshine State’s gambling compact with the Seminole Tribe.
This decision results from an ongoing case that’s now elevated to the US Supreme Court that challenges the legality of offering online and mobile sports betting from tribal lands.
The Magic City Casino and the Bonita Springs Poker Room, two gambling entities that reside near South Beach, argue that online gambling cannot be offered outside of Native American lands.
Appellate courts found that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act contained language that allowed for off-site gambling through websites or mobile applications.
“The circuit opinion raises a question of nationwide importance regarding the ability of states and tribes to use IGRA compacts to provide for gaming off Indian lands…”
Excerpt from plaintiffs’ request to the US Supreme Court
There are some states across the US where tribal casinos are allowed to provide online games while on the premises of the gambling venue. If the US Supreme Court sides with the Seminole Tribe of Florida, the precedent could allow tribes in other parts of the country to offer online gaming off the reservation.
The plaintiffs aren’t necessarily seeking justice. They’re upset about the online sports betting monopoly that the Seminoles have been granted by the state of Florida and intend to cancel it outright if they can’t have a piece of the pie.
The Seminole-Florida Compact was deemed illegal in lower courts, but the First District Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., reversed that decision in 2023. The plaintiffs requested an en banc hearing, but that request was denied by the courts.
That gave the two South FL gambling institutions only one remaining option for the case – to petition the US Supreme Court for the final word on the matter.
While the plaintiffs awaited word from the SCOTUS, they filed an additional challenge to the Florida Supreme Court, which in turn ordered a response from the tribe and Governor Ron DeSantis.
Now that Justice Roberts has ordered a stay of the appellate court’s decision on the gambling agreement between the Seminoles and Florida, sports betting options will remain closed.
That’s been the case since December 2021, when these legal proceedings began. The Hard Rock Casinos stopped taking in-person sports bets, and the Hard Rock Sportsbook app shut down after only a few weeks of operation.
The hold commanded by Justice Roberts merely enforces what the tribe was already doing – self-abstaining while the case played out in court. The Seminoles have until October 18th to respond.