Crypto Club Site Logo

Federal court sides with Seminoles over sports betting gaming compact appeal


In a significant development, a federal appeals court has ruled in favor of the Seminole Tribe’s appeal against a previous court decision that deemed their Class III gaming compact with the State of Florida to be in violation of the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).

The Seminole Tribe currently enjoys a monopoly on Las Vegas-style casino gambling with house-banked table games in Florida. With six brick-and-mortar casinos, including the renowned Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood and Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa, the tribe is a prominent player in the state’s gaming industry.

The Seminole Tribe and the mobile sports betting fiasco–what happened?

In April 2021, the Seminole Tribe and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis reached a new 30-year gaming compact. The agreement granted the tribe exclusive rights to online sports betting and allowed them to introduce roulette and craps to their casinos. In return, the Seminoles committed to making a minimum payment of $2.5 billion over the first five years of the deal.

However, the provision enabling the tribe to offer online sports betting triggered a legal dispute. West Flagler Associates, the former owner of Magic City Casino and the Bonita Springs Poker Room, filed a lawsuit arguing that Florida’s decision to permit the tribe to accept sports bets over the internet violated the IGRA. The case targeted the Department of the Interior, with the Bureau of Indian Affairs being named as the defendant due to its approval of the gaming compact.

In November 2021, federal judge Dabney Friedrich of the DC district court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, invalidating the compact and casting uncertainty over the tribe’s sports betting operations. Just weeks prior to the ruling, the Seminoles had launched their Hard Rock Sportsbook app.

The appeals court determined that IGRA does not prohibit the Seminoles from accepting remote sports bets.

The ruling stated that the compact only authorized betting occurring on the tribe’s lands, satisfying the requirements of IGRA. The court acknowledged that whether it is lawful for a patron to place bets from non-tribal land within Florida is a matter for the state’s courts to decide, but it is not the subject of the ongoing litigation.

Florida state to work with Seminole Tribe

Jason Mahon, a spokesperson for Governor DeSantis, expressed the state’s commitment to working with the Seminole Tribe to ensure the success of the historic gaming compact. Projections made at the time of signing estimated that Florida would receive over $20 billion in tribal gaming revenue over the 30-year lifespan of the compact.

While the Seminole compact has now been deemed legal and the tribe is permitted to resume its online sportsbook, West Flagler could potentially request a full “en banc” hearing from the appellate court. 

Federal court sides with Seminoles over sports betting gaming compact appeal

Legal experts specializing in tribal law anticipate that this ruling will prompt tribes across the country with Class III gaming compacts involving sports betting to approach their state governors for online sports betting privileges. This could lead to an IGRA challenge that may eventually reach the Supreme Court.

Furthermore, since the federal appeals court has concluded that IGRA does not explicitly prohibit facilitating remote bets, tribes may also seek to secure iGaming rights through their Class III compacts. The implications of this ruling could extend beyond Florida and have far-reaching consequences for tribal gaming nationwide.

For more up-to-date news and features on gambling and iGaming industry, please visit our Casino News and Features at Crypto Club Site.

More to explore

They Believe in Us

We suggest

Table of Contents