Monday, June 17, 2024

West Flagler Submits Legal Document, Supreme Court to Make Decision on Florida Sports Betting

West Flagler Submits Final Brief to SCOTUS on Florida Online Sports Betting Case

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Jan 15, 2024; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) celebrates a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first half of a 2024 NFC wild card game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

  • West Flagler submitted its final brief to SCOTUS regarding Florida online sports betting
  • The petitioners believe the Florida gaming compact incorrectly authorizes gaming off-tribal lands
  • Fate of Florida online sports betting now in SCOTUS Justices’ hands

West Flagler submitted its final brief to the U.S. Supreme Court of the United States, again asserting that the Florida gaming compact incorrectly authorizes online sports betting off-tribal land and runs afoul of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

The potential case centers around the 2021 approved Florida gaming compact. West Flagler believes the compact authorizes gaming outside of tribal lands, while the U.S. Department of the Interior defends Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland’s decision to authorize the gaming compact

With the briefing stage now complete, SCOTUS Justices will now determine if they grant the writ of certiorari to West Flagler and review Florida online sports betting.

Compact Centers Around Tribal Land Argument

West Flagler has contended that Haaland should never have been able to approve a compact that allows for gaming to take place off Indian lands. Additionally, West Flagler believes the compact violates the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), and grants a monopoly to the Seminole Tribe in violation of equal-protection principles.

Hamish P. Hume, counsel for West Flagler, wrote in the brief the government’s IGRA argument is that the Court of Appeals correctly interpreted the compact as not authorizing sports betting off Indian land and the approval of the compact did not violate IGRA.

“By contrast, the government effectively concedes that if the compact authorized gaming off Indian lands, then its approval would have violated IGRA and the Court of Appeals’ decision would have conflicted with decisions of this court and other circuits, necessitating review and reversal by this court,” he wrote.

The government’s argument centers around whether or not the Court of Appeals properly interpreted that the compact did not authorize sports betting off tribal land, Hume noted.

“The relevant language in the compact is not ambiguous. Instead, it expressly creates a device designed to authorize sports gaming off Indian lands,” Hume wrote.

Counsel for the DOI asserted that the D.C. Circuit Court’s interpretation of the gaming compact between the state and Seminole Tribe that authorizes online sports betting only on tribal lands and does not authorize betting located outside tribal land is correct, and consistent, with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).

DOI counsel noted in its response that the D.C. Circuit Court recognizes that compacts may include provisions negotiated between a state a tribe. The allowable provisions are related to the application of laws and regulations of the tribe or the state that are related to licensing and regulation of gaming, the allocation of criminal and civil jurisdiction between the state and tribes necessary for enforcement of laws and regulations, remedies for breach of contract, and “any other gaming subjects that are directly related to the operation of gaming activities.”

The DOI counsel argued there is no reason that a Tribal-State compact that authorizes gaming activities on Indian lands under IGRA cannot also include provisions negotiated between the tribe and state that authorizes gaming activities in the state on non-Indian lands.

What’s Next for Florida?

The U.S. Supreme Court will now have to determine if the writ of certiorari will be accepted and the court will hear the case. According to Daniel Wallach, a gaming law attorney, Founder of Wallach Legal and UNHLaw Sports Wagering, the Seminole Tribe will not submit a brief in reply to West Flagler.

SCOTUS now has three options, Wallach noted on X.

If SCOTUS denies the petition, that would be the end of the road for West Flagler with the court. However, if it decides to accept the petition, a final ruling on Florida online sports betting would likely not come until sometime in late 2025.

In a major development in the ongoing battle over Florida online sports betting, West Flagler has submitted its final brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the Florida gaming compact erroneously allows for online sports betting off tribal lands. The case centers around the 2021 approved Florida gaming compact, with West Flagler alleging that it violates the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and grants a monopoly to the Seminole Tribe.

The crux of the argument lies in whether Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland had the authority to approve a compact that permits gaming activities outside of Indian lands. West Flagler’s counsel, Hamish P. Hume, contends that the compact clearly authorizes sports betting off tribal land, contrary to the government’s position.

The Department of the Interior, in its response, maintains that the compact aligns with IGRA and allows for provisions negotiated between the state and tribe regarding gaming activities beyond tribal lands. The DOI argues that there is no prohibition on including such provisions in a Tribal-State compact.

The fate of Florida online sports betting now rests with the Supreme Court, which will decide whether to grant certiorari and hear the case. Should the petition be denied, it would mark the end of the road for West Flagler in this legal battle. However, if the Court accepts the petition, a final ruling may not be expected until late 2025.

The Seminole Tribe, a key player in the compact, is not expected to submit a brief in reply to West Flagler. With these developments, the stage is set for a crucial decision by the Supreme Court that could shape the future of online sports betting in Florida. Stay tuned for further updates on this case as it unfolds.

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