Supreme Court Has Been Asked to Overturn Florida Sports Betting Relaunch

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Nov 10, 2023 12:00 AM
Will the return of Florida sports betting be overturned by the Supreme Court?

The return of Florida sports betting did not even make it two days before an attempt was made to shut it down.

On Tuesday, November 7, the Seminole Tribe relaunched their Florida sports betting app in partnership with Hard Rock Bet. The rollout came without warning or promotion, and its return was extremely limited. Even without the fanfare, though, it failed to evade scrutiny and response. News outlets picked up on the return almost immediately, and a ton of speculation and inquiries soon followed.

Well, shortly after all of that, the Florida Supreme Court was asked to roll back the relaunch of the Seminole Tribe sports betting app. Who made the request? And on what grounds? Will Florida sports betting ultimately be repealed all over again, just like it was in 2021? What does this mean for the ongoing litigation over the fate of sports gambling in The Sunshine State?

There is a lot to unpack on the subject—more than ever, quite frankly. As always, let’s allow ourselves to find clarity of form opinions by combing the most pertinent details.

The Party Behind the Florida Sports Betting Rollback Request is Exactly Who You Suspect

West Flagler Associates, a gaming operator that runs throughout The Sunshine State, is behind the request to block the return of Florida sports betting. Kevin Accettulla of NBC News 8 in Tampa Bay has relayed the full the details:

“The Florida Supreme Court has been asked to block the Seminole Tribe’s sports betting shortly after it was announced the app would relaunch, according to online court documents. West Flagler Associates asked the court on Tuesday to ‘immediately suspend the off-reservation sports betting provisions in the Implementing Law that purport to authorize the Tribe to conduct sports betting statewide,’ and to maintain the status quo of ‘no sports betting statewide’ until a ruling is made in the existing court cases.”

This is not a particularly surprising development. West Flagler Associates has been engaged with the legal battle over Florida sports betting since it was initially launched in 2021. They are the plaintiffs that prompted it to get repealed in the first place roughly two years ago.

As things currently stand, West Flagler Associates is seeking to overturn a Florida Supreme Court decision invalidating their claim that the Seminole Tribe’s gaming compact with The Sunshine State violated the Indian Regulatory Gaming Act. The case is presently under review at the federal level. Though there’s no guarantee it gets elevated to the active docket, many experts expect the United States Supreme Court to accept it

Based on the verbiage used in the online documents, West Flagler Associates wants the Seminole Tribe to cease all sports betting operations in Florida until a verdict is rendered by the U.S. Supreme Court. Will they be successful? We’ll have to wait and see.

Why Did the Seminole Tribe Suddenly Relaunch Their Florida Sports Betting App?

The answer here isn’t totally clear. We can only make informed guesses. And our best guess is the Seminole Tribe was simply hoping it wouldn’t be a problem.

Remember: The Florida Supreme Court technically ruled that the Seminoles could continue to offer sports betting. Granted, that’s not what they said verbatim. But relaunching the betting application was within the bounds of the ruling they delivered.

Still, the Seminole Tribe’s decision to re-introduce the sports betting app without real warning could suggest they were trying to fly under the radar. That would also explain why they limited access to existing users who signed up before sports betting was repealed in 2021.

At the same time, the Seminole Tribe could simply have been trying to troubleshoot an app that had been dormant for two years and likely received a face-lift. And this beta-test probably would have been in service of the bigger picture. 

In other words: This could have been the Seminoles’ way of preparing themselves for a larger Florida sports betting launch if and when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in their favor

This line of thinking is gaining real traction. Because, according to multiple outlets, the Seminoles apparently announced they intended to relaunch retail sports betting in Florida around December. And when West Flagler Associates didn’t respond to that plan, the Seminole Tribe may have thought it was safe to try the same with their Hard Rock sports betting app.

What Happens to Sports Gambling in Florida Now?

Entering Friday, November 10, the Florida Supreme Court had yet to indicate when it would make a decision on West Flagler Associates’ request. Analysts generally seem split on what will happen next, as well. 

Legal experts previously said West Flagler Associates will have a case if they go before the U.S. Supreme Court. And if the assumption is this matter will make it that far, the Florida Supreme Court could just suspend sports betting all over again until the federal gives their say.

Then again, the Florida Supreme Court already sided with The Seminole Tribe. Granting the Florida sports betting blockage would seem counterintuitive to that decision.

Timing could also impact what happens next. We are merely a couple a months away from online sportsbooks in the United States lobbying members of congress to pass pro-gambling legislation in places without it. Neither Florida nor the Supreme Court is directly involved in that. But if other states start legalizing sports betting as part of their legislature meetings, it could sway the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Indiana Regulatory Gaming act.

Really, though, anything can happen from here. The battle over Florida sports betting has already proven as much. And this latest development has shown that uncertainty remains.

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Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan first began writing about sports back in 2011. At the time, his expertise lied in the NBA and NFL. More than one decade, that remains the case. But he's also expanded his catalog to include extensive knowledge and analysis on the NHL, MLB, tennis, NASCAR, college ba...

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