UPDATE: In-person sports betting will begin in Florida’s Hard Rock Casinos on December 7th
In the case of sports betting in Florida, it seems that each time progress is achieved, setbacks follow. Last week, the United States Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal put forth by West Flagler Associates declaring that online and mobile sports betting in FL violates the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IRGA).
A federal appellate court sided with the US Department of the Interior after finding language in the IRGA that supported web-based gambling as long as the server was located on tribal lands.
This reversal followed a win in state court by the plaintiffs, owners of the Bonita Springs Poker Room in South Florida.
The continued legal action against Florida sports betting has forced the closure of sportsbooks in the Sunshine State since December 2021. The Hard Rock Sportsbook application stopped taking bets, although they legally could have remained open until earlier this month when the US Supreme Court issued a stay on the appellate court’s prior decision.
Last Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court denied the request of the plaintiffs, representing the final word in the case against FL’s online sportsbooks and mobile sports betting apps.
However, a separate lawsuit has now reached Florida’s Supreme Court. The plaintiffs are a legislative interest group by the name of “No Casinos” who believe that the addition of sports betting in the state of Florida should have required voter approval.
“This court should act to preclude the unconstitutional compact and its implementing statutes from taking effect. Until and unless the voters authorize statewide sports betting, this court has the discretionary power and, we think, the duty to invalidate the respondents’ actions in approving the sports betting provisions of the compact and in passing implementing statutes.”
Excerpt From Florida Supreme Court Brief Filed By No Casinos
There is language in prior gambling compacts that indicates that expansion needs to be approved by voters. There is also an out where federal approval can circumvent any ballot requirements.
The United States Department of the Interior approved the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s revised gaming compact by refraining from objection during the review period. Once the deadline for objection passed, sports betting became legal in FL.
In fact, online and mobile sportsbooks were offered for a brief time in late November 2021 until legal challenges were filed in court. The fact that the Seminole Hard Rock Casino hasn’t rushed to reopen its sports betting enterprises in the state is proof enough that No Casinos’ stance has at least a slim shot of being proven correct in court.
The ultimate outcome of these proceedings could clear the way for other tribes to follow suit. For instance, new compacts could allow sports betting in Oklahoma over the web without the need for favorable votes.
The minimum gambling age for betting on sports at a domestic sportsbook in FL will be 21, matching the requirement for gambling in a casino. 18+ players in Florida can partake in cash games of poker in local card rooms.