Opening the door to online sports betting in Florida

Reporter: Michael Hudak Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

The Seminole Tribe may be in the sports betting game as soon as the week of Sept. 18. That’s the prediction of one gambling expert WINK News spoke with on Wednesday.

After a federal court refused to re-hear a challenge to the Seminole Tribe’s gambling agreement with the state earlier this week, the Seminoles may have a green light to relaunch their sportsbook and online gambling system, and there’s not much standing in their way to move forward.

“They really do have a monopoly,” said Professor Bob Jarvis from Nova Southeastern University.

“We are all living in the Seminoles world when it comes to gambling in Florida,” said Jarvis. “The Florida legislature years ago decided that they were going to turn gambling basically over to the Seminoles.”

The State of Florida signed its first compact with the Seminole Tribe in 2010. Florida gave the Seminoles the right to offer slot machines, banked card games and poker in exchange for $200 million annually.

Fast forward to 2021, that compact gave the tribe exclusive rights to sports gambling, with the tribe agreeing to pay the state $500 million annually.

A short time later, the Federal Court struck down the deal before getting reinstated by an appeals court in Washington D.C. Although, the tribe did not start taking bets.

“There was a request put in by the folks who were challenging the agreement to have the entire federal appellate court rehear the case,” said Jarvis.

But the challengers, West Flagler Associates, who represent Magic City Casino in Miami and Bonita Springs Poker Room in Southwest Florida, lost their case too.

Attorney Daniel Wallach, an expert in sports gambling in Florida, said the implications are huge.

“This will impact relations between tribal governments, state governments, local governments and other gaming stakeholders. In dozens of other states, this has the potential to dramatically alter the internet gaming landscape in every state,” said Wallach.

Since West Flagler Associates has 90 days to file another appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court or at the state level, that could be one last sticking point. WINK News contacted West Flagler Associates to see if they will file that suit, but they denied comment on Wednesday.

There was also no comment from the Seminoles on when they might start retaking bets.

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