Expected legal challenge
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made history in May by approving a 30-year tribal gambling treaty in the state. This gave Florida's Seminole tribe exclusive rights to offer online and retail sports betting. However, due to the controversial nature of this contract, lawmakers expected litigation at some point in the future.
67 - Complaint page alleges mobile betting aspect of contract violates federal law
The first of these legal issues came on Friday through gambling operator parimutuel Southwest Parimutuels. The owner of the Magic City casino in Miami and the poker room Bonita-Fort Myers Corp has filed a lawsuit against the governor in an attempt to block the expansion of the gambling business. 67 - The complaint page alleges that the mobile betting contract aspect violates federal law and is based on a "legal fiction".
The lawsuit specifically refers to the Indian Gambling Regulation Act (IGRA), which prohibits betting on sports outside of tribal lands. DeSantis' new deal will allow the Seminole Tribe to offer sports betting across the state of Florida using mobile devices. The plaintiff claimed that he would "lose millions" of revenue due to the IGRA violation.
Although the treaty has received DeSantis' signature, it is still awaiting approval from the US Department of the Interior. The agency has a 67 day window to make a decision on the contract.
Argument about tribal lands
Notably, the Southwest Parimutuels lawsuit does not attempt to stop the Seminoles from offering sports betting at all. It only tries to block the inclusion of mobile betting. This is because Plaintiff believes that mobile betting will take place off-reserve and not on tribal lands.
Sports betting without a reservation is a controversial subject in Florida. In 2018, lawmakers passed an amendment to a state law requiring voters to approve sports betting at the ballot box. However, bettors argued that the new tribal treaty would only allow betting on the Seminole Reservation, with all online betting processed through servers on tribal land.
This allowed DeSantis to avoid a public vote on the issue, but it didn't sit well with expansion opponents. Southwest Parimutuels' complaint read: "Admitting that the bet was made on Indian lands because the servers are located there is contrary to decades of well-established case-law interpretation applicable to federal law." Contrary to the provision of the contract, the plaintiff claims that the bet is made “and where both the player and the casino are located”
According to Tampa Bay Times , Seminole Gaming spokesman Gary Bitner defended the treaty in response to the lawsuit. Citing recent polls in which Florida residents supported the deal, Bitner said the deal is fully legal and guarantees "$2.5 billion in revenue sharing over the first five years."
Who will win?
When SB 4-A passed through the House in May, Florida lawmakers made it clear they were expecting a tough legal battle under the law. Congressman Sam Garrison described the treaty as an "open legal matter" that will eventually be taken to court.
Meanwhile, Rep. Michael Grieco said it would be "intellectually dishonest" to claim that the contract is not an expansion of the gambling business. Somewhat pessimistically, he argued that the law would eventually lose in court. “We will lose and we will see it on the ballots,” commented the deputy
can also open the door to new casinos in the state
It's also not the only aspect of sports betting law that is meeting some resistance. The deal could also open doors to new casinos in the state. It includes a provision that prevents the Seminoles from interfering if the authorities issue a gambling license for any property located more than 15 miles from his Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Hollywood.
In June, the city of Doral in Miami-Dade County took action to prevent casinos from reopening in light of the new deal. Officials ban gambling and casinos if they are not approved by residents in a referendum . Just a few months earlier, Eric Trump, son of former US President Donald Trump, called Trump National Doral Miami golf resort is a "natural choice" for a gambling license. .