- The renegotiated compact between the State of Florida and the Seminole Tribe is under attack.
- The compact would allow for off-reservation mobile sports betting, and that clause has raised eyebrows.
- Southwest Parimutuels filed a lawsuit to prevent the enactment of mobile sports betting controlled by the Seminole Tribe.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The deal that the State of Florida made with the Seminole Tribe to allow sports betting in the state is under attack.
While the renegotiated tribal compact is under review by the United States Department of the Interior’s Indian Affairs Bureau, there are expected to be multiple legal challenges to it in Federal court.
The first of these challenges was filed on Friday, by West Flagler Associates and Bonita-Fort Myers Corp., and is attempting to use the court system to overturn the renegotiated compact.
The argument that the lawsuit is making is that the renegotiated compact effectively allows for the Seminole Tribe to offer sports betting all across the state, not just on tribal land, due to the wording of provisions that enable internet gaming as long as the servers are on tribal land. This, of course, was the point of the compact in the first place - the idea was to allow the Seminoles to offer sports betting specifically because it could get done via tribal land.
Bonita-Fort Myers Corp. might be better known to the public as Southwest Parimutuels, the owners of Magic City Casino in Miami as well as the Bonita Springs Poker Room.
Southwest Parimutuels seems to be worried about the potential impact of online gambling being available in-home in Florida.
“Individuals in Florida can now gamble from the comfort of their homes, which will significantly, if not completely, impair Southwest Parimutuels’ ability to compete with the Tribe,” said the company.
In other words, they’re worried about the ability of bettors to choose other options than driving to the Magic City Casino or Bonita Springs Poker Room when they wish to wager.
This is a reasonable concern - and there’s some possibility that these pieces of the compact end up being struck down. The compact as it stands is likely to move forward, but it’s not impossible that specific provisions, such as this one, are disallowed.
However, when moving forward with this compact in the first place, both Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe seemed confident that legal challenges would be no issue.
The planned start date for sports betting in Florida is October 15, but it’s unclear whether or not there will be mobile sports betting at all by the time these lawsuits are done. Fans of online gambling in Florida might be in for a rude surprise, depending on how these lawsuits end up panning out.