A Washington, D.C. federal court has scheduled a hearing of the lawsuit between West Flagler Associates, on behalf of Florida pari-mutuels, and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and Julie Imanuel Brown, Secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, to determine the legality of online sports betting in the approved Florida gaming compact.
According to Daniel Wallach, a sports betting and gambling attorney, a hearing for the challenge has been set for Nov. 5. The federal court’s decision will likely determine if Florida online sports betting will be able to launch sometime before 2023.
The plaintiffs will likely file a motion for a preliminary injunction of online sports betting by Sept. 21, Wallach noted.
The Nov. 5 date for the hearing was determined by the Seminole Tribe’s expected launch of Florida online sports betting on Nov. 15, one month after the proposed launch date for in-person sports betting. The early date will allow for the Federal Court to levy a ruling before the proposed Nov. 15 online sports betting launch.
West Flagler Associates maintain the compact expressly violates the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act by allowing online sports betting to take place off tribal property.
“Despite IGRA’s express language, Defendants claim the Tribe can offer patrons online sports betting in their Florida homes or at pari-mutuels off Indian lands without violating IGRA’s limitation to gaming on Indian lands. Defendants assert that IGRA affirmatively authorizes Indian tribes to offer gaming activities to patrons who are physically located off Indian lands. This radical rewriting of IGRA finds support in precisely zero cases. And it depends upon a complete inversion of how IGRA operates. Whereas the central point of IGRA is to provide the legal framework and authority for on-reservation tribal gaming, Defendants reimagine it not to prohibit off-reservation tribal gaming—missing the point that, without the authorization IGRA provides, such a compact itself is invalid,” the plaintiffs claim in the motion.
If the court finds in favor of the plaintiffs, it likely puts an end to Florida online sports betting until 2023 at the earliest. The Florida legislature could attempt to legalize online sports betting in 2022 or could place their hopes on a proposed November 2022 ballot initiative to legalize online sports betting.
If approved by voters, the ballot initiative, backed by both DraftKings and FanDuel, would authorize sports and event betting under Florida law at professional sports venues and parimutuel facilities. It would also allow Florida online sports betting through third-party operators and by Native American tribes with a gaming compact.
The sportsbook operators donated $10 million each to Florida Education Champions, according to the Florida Department of State campaign finance activity records. The newly created political action committee is drumming up support for the voting initiative in the state and trying to collect the needed 891,589 valid signatures to place the question on the 2022 ballot.