Florida’s Gaming Scene in Turmoil as Court Fights Heat Up

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In a battle over expanding Florida’s gaming scene, two sides will meet in court Wednesday. One side claims that the other has turned into intimidation and harassment.

Las Vegas Sands vs the Seminole

In a highly sensitive case, a Tallahassee judge will hear from groups backed by the Seminole Tribe of Florida and Las Vegas Sands (LVS) casino giants. The judge will ask whether Tribe-backed groups are intimidating and coercing ballot campaign members supported by LVS.

Florida Voters in Charge is a group that was funded by LVS. They have requested a restraining or against the Tribe’s groups, including Standing Up for Florida and Let the Voters Decide. The lawsuit states that the Tribe-funded groups could prevent Florida Voters in Charge’s initiative to expand gaming in Florida on the 2022 ballot if they aren’t stopped.

According to the LVS -backed group, the Tribe is intimidating and harassing people. It also runs a sham petition-gathering campaign to siphon manpower from its campaign for the Florida Constitution to make it easier to convert card rooms into casinos. POLITICO Florida reported the “gaming turf battle” last week.

Lawsuit Claims Seminole Strong-Armed Petitioners

According to the lawsuit, vendors working in the Tribe’s interest circulated a “sham petition” in order to hire as many petition-gatherers as possible in order to prevent them from participating in Florida Voters in Charge’s election campaign. It claims that petition gatherers were paid per signature by the vendors, which is a Florida misdemeanor.

This lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Leon County. It follows a legal blow to Florida and the Seminole Tribe after a DC court canceled the gaming compact between Governor Ron DeSantis and the Tribe. DeSantis was expected to bring in billions of dollars to the state over the next few years through the compact.

Judge Angela Dempsey is scheduled to hear the intimidation case in Florida 2nd Judicial Circuit, Tallahassee, at a case management conference that takes place at 10 AM Wednesday.

POLITICO’s reporting and the lawsuit prompted Senator Jeff Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican, to ask for state attorneys to investigate both the Tribe and its vendors.

Seminole May Have to Refund All Sports Bets

Hard Rock Sportsbook’s app was shut down Saturday after a federal court decision declared illegal the Seminole Tribe’s gaming agreement with the state. There are still questions about what to do with the money made during the app’s operation.

FOX 13 reports that bettors may be eligible to receive a refund if they bet and lost. Many have called the compact a gamble from the beginning. It was bound to be rescinded by legal challenges.

According to attorney Daniel Wallach, “There is no more authority of law under which these bets were being placed. And it sets up a really interesting dynamic whether the Seminole Tribe will either voluntarily refund monies to customers who requested or fight or resist those overtures. And it will lead to litigation.”

The Seminole Tribe has paid the state about $75 million since October.

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