Published: May 30, 2024

Florida Sports Betting Gets its Day in (Supreme) Court

The ability to offer sports betting in Florida is at stake. 

The Seminole Tribe and its Hard Rock Bet sportsbook enjoy sole jurisdiction over the legal Florida sports betting market, but the highest court in the U.S. will weigh in on whether or not that remains.

The matter of West Flagler Associates, Ltd., et al, v. Debra Haaland, et al., - otherwise known around the industry as "the Florida sports betting case" - has been "distributed for conference” to the Supreme Court for a June 13 discussion. The Court’s nine justices are expected to review the case on that date to decide where things go from there.  

Both West Flagler and the federal government filed briefs earlier this month. Lawyers for Interior Secretary Deb Haaland asked SCOTUS to deny any motions by West Flagler to move this case forward because it’s the federal government’s opinion that earlier rulings upholding the Florida sports betting compact were correct. West Flagler is calling the legality of the current status of sports betting in Florida "plainly unlawful,” so this dissonance has now made its way all the way to the Supreme Court. 

 Talking points

In legal terms, West Flagler has filed a petition of certiorari, which essentially asks the Supreme Court to review a lower court’s decision. 

Legal sports betting in Florida only exists because of the "hub-and-spoke” gaming compact which granted exclusive rights to the Seminole Tribe to establish statewide online sports betting platforms. Hard Rock Bet fully launched in December despite ongoing legal battles at various levels of the federal and state legal systems challenging whether the hub-and-spoke facet of the compact allowing off-reservation bets wired through tribal servers actually meets the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).

Florida attorney Daniel Wallach filed an amicus brief arguing that this structure actually violates the IGRA, citing Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s statement from last October that "if the compact authorized the Tribe to conduct off-reservation gaming operations, either directly or by deeming off-reservation gaming operations to somehow be on-reservation, then the compact would likely violate the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).”

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