The Next Florida Sports Betting Decision is Expected to Come in a Few Months

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Apr 9, 2024 08:00 PM
The Next Florida Sports Betting Decision is Expected to Come in a Few Months

We could soon be nearing an end to the years-long Florida sports betting battle. 

“Soon,” of course, is open to interpretation. Some have speculated the next verdict needed for sports betting in Florida could come over the next couple of weeks. Others, however, expect it to be a few months before another ruling is handed down.

Either way, this verges on good news for anyone who’s a fan of closure. The fate of Florida sports gambling has billowed in the wind since the end of 2021—nearly two full years ago. Though nobody is quite sure how the latest litigation will play out, just about everyone would welcome a resolution to such an extended saga. Even if the end result doesn’t allow for the Seminole Tribe to relaunch sports betting services, the state can at least focus on the next course of action. 

In that case, it would be revisiting square one. A timeline for Florida sports gambling would go back to the drawing board. But this presumes the United States Supreme Court sides with the plaintiffs. And yes, according to that latest news, the battle over legal sports gambling in The Sunshine State does appear headed for the Supreme Court. 

What should we expect from hereon? What remains a point of contention among everyone involved in this case? Let’s break it all down.

It Seems as If the Florida Sports Betting Case will be Elevated to the United States Supreme Court

Once the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the Seminole Tribe’s Florida sports betting compact a few weeks ago, most assumed it was only a matter of time before the case was bumped up to the Supreme Court. The plaintiffs, West Flagler Associates, filed a petition that required the Appeals Court to re-evaluate their decision. But that was considered a formality—a means of buying time to properly build their Supreme Court case. And as Kaitlin Knapp wrote for Fox News 4 in Southwest Florida, that’s exactly what has transpired:

In as little as a few weeks, Floridians could find out whether or not online sports betting will be legal. The legal saga is two-fold, meaning lawsuits are filed at the state and federal levels. Those lawsuits were filed by West Flagler Associates. ‘West Flagler’s Florida Supreme Court lawsuit argues Governor [Ron] DeSantis and the state legislature exceeded their constitutionally delegated powers,’ [gambling attorney] Daniel Wallach said. The Florida Supreme Court has requested that Governor DeSantis file a response brief by November 1 and West Flagler has 20 days to respond. At the federal level, West Flagler is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case shot down by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. ‘West Flagler has indicated that it will be seeking an emergency stay before the United States Supreme Court,’ Wallach said.”

Various legal experts have suggested that West Flagler Associates will not be successful in getting the Florida Supreme Court to overturn the Appeals Court’s latest decision. Their Supreme Court case is considered more winnable, if only because the former typically rules by letter of the law rather than setting new precedents.

The primary issue is the same as it’s ever been. West Flagler Associates, a Florida gaming operator, argues that the Seminole Tribe violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act by allowing users to place wagers with their Florida mobile sports betting app outside of tribal property. The Seminoles, however, continue to insist that their Florida online sports betting app is an extension of their property and should be accessible pretty much anywhere. 

While a District Court judge sided with West Flagler Associates at the end of 2021, the Appeals Court ruled in favor of the Seminoles and the state of Florida this time around. And given The Sunshine State’s own financial stake in the matter, many are skeptical the Florida Supreme Court will go against the Appeals Court ruling.

The Stakes are High as the Florida Sports Gambling Litigation Flirts with Its Final Stages

On the one hand, so many will be relieved that the Florida sports betting litigation could be nearing its conclusion. On the other hand, the stakes at hand are skyhigh.

As Wallach noted while speaking with Fox News 4, West Flagler Associates only needs to win one of their two filings to upend the future of sports betting throughout Florida. If the state or federal supreme court sides with them, Florida sports gambling would remain dormant. This would push the timeline for its return back quite a bit—potentially years. 

That’s quite a lengthy delay. But operators such as West Flagler Associates will welcome the opportunity to re-address Florida’s gaming laws. Dismissing the Seminole Tribe’s gaming compact with the state once and for all would allow additional tribes as well as other online sportsbooks in the United States to push for legislation that allows them to enter the Florida market.

In the event the Seminole Tribe and state win both of the current cases, it would set the stage for an immediate relaunch of Florida sports betting. But before gamblers start prepping to join betting on the 2023 NFL season or anything, it should be noted that nobody quite has a hold on the potential outcome.

More than anything, while certain insiders claim a decision could come within the next few weeks, that timeline will mushroom to months if the Supreme Court agrees to hear the case. And when reading between the lines of what legal experts like Daniel Wallach are saying, a showdown at the Supreme Court level still feels like the most likely outcome. What happens from there, as of now, is anyone’s guess.

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Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan Favale leverages over 12 years of sports journalism expertise in his role as New York staff writer. He provides in-depth analysis across the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, tennis, NASCAR, college basketball, and sports betting. Dan co-hosts the popular Hardwood Knocks NBA podc...

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