March 11, 2024 3 min read


Legal Dispute over Online Sports Betting in Florida Continues

The defense of two companies that challenge the current gaming compact claim the agreement seeks to circumvent the constitution in Florida

In 2021, the Seminole Tribe and Florida entered into a gaming compact that paved the way for statewide legal mobile sports betting. Lawmakers in the state, including Gov. Ron DeSantis, played an important role in the legislative process that ultimately awarded the Tribe with exclusivity over online and retail sports wagering. Despite the contract receiving a green light and the Tribe launching betting temporarily, the compact was tangled in a years-long legal battle.

Bonita-Fort Myers Corporation along with West Flagler and Associates (WFA), two pari-mutuel companies in Florida, challenged the legality of the gaming compact. They argued that the Tribe secured exclusivity for statewide mobile betting through a loophole. This loophole allows them to accept wagers across the state, provided that the servers required for the activity are located on tribal lands.

In a statement released by the Associated Press, the defense of the two companies explained: “Through this artifice, the Compact transparently attempts to get around the Florida Constitution.” Moreover, attorneys representing the two companies pointed out: “The whole point of the Compact is to provide a hook for dodging Florida’s constitutional requirement of a popular referendum to approve off-reservation sports betting.”

Department of Interior Has until April to Submit a Response with the US Supreme Court

West Flagler would not let things go the way they are now, which is why the company challenged the gaming compact with a lawsuit. It argued that the agreement between the Seminole Tribe and Florida was in violation of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). This is because, under IGRA, gambling activities the Tribe can offer are restricted to tribal lands.

After a couple of failed attempts and rulings in opposition to West Flagler’s stance, the company raised the concern with the gaming compact with the US Supreme Court. An initial deadline for submission of a response to the case by the US Department of Interior (DOI) was set for March 13, 2023. However, that deadline was extended through April 12, 2024, giving the agency additional time to address the complicated case.

Despite West Flagler’s efforts, the future of its case in front of the US Supreme Court isn’t certain. This is because the court accepts only a fraction of the thousands of lawsuits it is asked to review each year. Yet, the company hopes that the highest court will side with its position and if that happens, the legal betting landscape in Florida may drastically change.

Yet for the moment, the Seminole Tribe remains exclusively in charge of sports betting. Back in December, the company relaunched Hard Rock Bet, which is currently the only legal sportsbook in the state.


Jerome is a welcome new addition to the Gambling News team, bringing years of journalistic experience within the iGaming sector. His interest in the industry begun after he graduated from college where he played in regular local poker tournaments which eventually lead to exposure towards the growing popularity of online poker and casino rooms. Jerome now puts all the knowledge he's accrued to fuel his passion for journalism, providing our team with the latest scoops online.

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