Florida Sports Gambling In the Air as the Seminole Tribe Appeals Order

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A federal judge ruled against Seminole Tribe on Wednesday night, after she refused to suspend her order from earlier this week. That ruling declared the amended gaming deal between the tribe and Florida illegal.

An amended gaming compact gave Seminole Tribe the exclusive statewide right to sports betting. District of Columbia US District judge Dabney Friedrich, however, revoked the entire compact late Monday. She ruled that it violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) because it permitted gaming outside tribal property.

The Seminole Tribe filed for a stay in the case less than 24 hours later. A decision was requested by Wednesday, but Friedrich denied that request. Friedrich claimed the sovereign nation failed to show “a substantial chance” of winning the case. She also said that the tribe failed to identify a serious legal question that is required for a stay.

Seminole Gaming’s Hard Rock Sportsbook was apparently still taking bets in Florida Thursday morning before the biggest regular-season weekend in college and pro football.

Next Stop, the Circuit Court of Appeals

The Seminole Tribe has now appealed Friedrich’s decision to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. Lawyers representing the tribe filed an urgent appeal to the appellate judge on Thursday afternoon. They asked for a stay to Friedrich’s order by the judges “pending resolutions to the significant legal issues in the Tribe’s appeal,” which is also before that court.

Thursday’s filing claimed that a stay would be best for the public interests because “three sovereign governments” stated that the compact adheres Florida law and federal laws.

The emergency appeal states, “The District Court’s Memorandum Opinion and Order has had an immediate chilling effect on the Tribe’s operations. The Tribe and the State stand to lose millions in lost revenues and revenue-sharing payments, and hundreds of jobs could be lost or furloughed pending resolution of these issues on appeal.”

Tribal leaders demand an expedited case review and have asked for a decision within one week. Seminole officials warn that additional delays could cause further harm to the state as well as the tribe. According to some estimates, Florida’s government was expected to receive around $2.5 billion in revenue from sports betting through 2025.

It’s unclear when the appeals court might hear the case, as yesterday was a federal holiday.

Google Steps In, Uninvited

As of Thursday morning, Hard Rock Sportsbook was still available on the Google Play Store. However, the online giant changed its online advertising policies and now blocks ads for Florida sports betting.

According to Google’s announcement posted on its help page for advertising policies, the change took effect on Wednesday.

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