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Jerome García February 9, 2024 3 min read
West Flagler Continues Sports Betting Legal Battle
In the most recent chapter of the legal fight, the company challenged the legality of the compact between the Seminole Tribe and Florida
A gaming compact between the Seminole Tribe and Gov. Ron DeSantis in Florida, dating back to 2021, was tangled into a prolonged legal battle. The compact permitted the Tribe to accept online sports bets across the state under the condition that the computer servers required for this be positioned within Indian lands. Consequently, West Flagler Associates, a pari-mutuel company in the state, launched a lawsuit, claiming that the greenlighted compact was in violation of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).
The legal hurdle continued for years before a decision of the US Supreme Court resolved the issue partly in November. At the time, the Court supported a decision of the DC Circuit US Court of Appeals which said that the gaming compact between the Tribe and the state allowed sports betting that is conducted on Indian lands. When it comes to online sports betting, the DC Circuit concluded that those activities were regulated under another agreement between the state and the Tribe for which the IGRA didn’t apply.
After the US Supreme Court’s decision, the Seminole Tribe relaunched Hard Rock Bet early in December. The sportsbook effectively became the only betting platform available for customers in the state.
While this sounded like the end of the legal battle, a new report suggests that West Flagler continues the fight, this time through a writ of certiorari. As announced by PlayUSA, the pari-mutuel company requested the US Supreme Court to assess the legality of the gaming compact between the Seminole Tribe and Florida.
The Pari-Mutuel Company Challenges the Legality of the Gaming Compact
In its latest legal request, West Flagler questions whether the Department of Interior rightfully permitted the gaming compact under IGRA which included online sports betting to be conducted outside of tribal lands. The compact granted the Seminole Tribe exclusivity over online sports betting in the state and West Flagler argued that this was in breach of the IGRA.
The writ of certiorari filed on Thursday included a number of questions for the US Supreme Court. The company questioned whether the approved gaming compact under IGRA is in violation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, considering that it allows sports betting through the internet from locations outside of tribal lands.
Moreover, West Flagler questioned whether the decision to approve the gaming compact was in violation of the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause, considering that a single Indian tribe is granted an online sports betting monopoly.
Another point raised by the company is related to the tribe-state compact under the IGRA. West Flagler asked the US Supreme Court whether the compact under the IGRA can extend to a monopoly of online sports betting across Florida outside Tribal lands.
Despite the latest legal effort, it is unclear whether the US Supreme Court would review further the aforementioned legal challenge.