Florida Sports Betting Decision Expected to be Appealed by Plaintiffs

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Aug 14, 2023 12:00 AM
The recent ruling on Florida sports betting is expected to be appealed.

Yet obstacle to the future of Florida sports betting is now presenting itself.

At the beginning of July, it appeared Florida sports betting could be on the verge of a return. A United States Appeals Court ruled in favor of the Seminole Tribe in their case against West Flagler Associates, a group representing online sports gambling interests. The verdict superseded a District Court ruling from 2021, which repealed legal sports gambling in Florida shortly after it went live. As things currently stand, the Seminole Tribe could technically relaunch sports betting right now. Many, in fact, were hoping Florida would roll out sports betting in time for the 2023 NFL season, even though the Seminoles repeatedly sidestepped the issue. 

That hope now feels like a long shot. Because as one prominent gambling attorney recently explained, West Flagler Associates is expected to appeal the latest sports gambling decision. And if they do, that could prevent the Seminoles from relaunching a service potentially at risk of getting reversed once again. 

What’s the likelihood West Flagler Associates goes through with the appeals process? What are the odds that it’s successful? Are there any other possible hang ups that could impede the return of sports betting in Florida

Successful Florida Sports Betting Appeal is a Long Shot

For anyone who doesn’t want to see any further delays in the process, there is potentially some good news: Any appeal filed by West Flagler Associates is unlikely to be successful, according to Daniel Wallach, a gaming law attorney. With that said, he still expects the appeal to be filed, as he explained to Sports Betting Dime’s Robert Linnehan:

”If West Flagler does nothing, they’ll face immediate competition by virtue of online sports betting being activated in the state. There is very little downside to an appeal, and there’s no risk. It’s an insignificant cost compared with what they’ve already spent fighting this. If they’re already in this far, I don’t see the logic of conceding at this point.”

West Flagler Associates has until the middle of August to decide whether they will file an appeal. If they do, they will need a judge to essentially decide on a matter that has proven quite controversial and complicated across multiple federal court cases. The question at hand: Does the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act apply to tribal gaming outside of tribal grounds?

The current gaming compact that was upheld by the appeals court effectively decided it doesn’t. This would free up the Seminoles to offer Florida online sports betting using their own mobile app to everyone across the state, even when they’re not on tribal property. Their use of such an application, which they initially released in partnership with the Hard Rock Sportsbook, is what started this whole litigation process. The best online sportsbooks in the United States weren't allowed to operate and took exception to the loophole.

Mr. Wallach doesn’t see another judge ruling in favor of West Flagler Associates. He believes the legal slope is too slippery. He also believes that given the polarizing nature of this case, the issue will draw attention from the Supreme Court.

The Issue of Florida Sports Betting Could be Headed to the Supreme Court

Let’s say West Flagler Associates doesn’t file an appeals request by the mid-August deadline. After that, they will have until September 30 to “request a writ of certiorari with SCOTUS.” This is also a route Wallach expects them to explore. He notes that the Supreme Court hears between 60 and 80 cases per year, which gives West Flagler Associates a better chance of having their case heard (again) and then thoroughly deliberated. Any appeals decision in a lower-level court is likely to come more quickly this time around, since the matter was just handled for months on end and because the rest of the court’s docket will be backed up.

Elevating the Florida sports betting debate to the Supreme Court would shine a spotlight on not just The Seminoles and The Sunshine State, but the sports gambling industry at large. Any ruling made by SCOTUS will establish a massive precedent cited by one side or the other in all future cases tackling similar, if not identical, issues. 

Is It Time to Push Back the Timeline for Sports Betting in The Sunshine State Yet Again?

At this point, the smart money is on Florida’s case getting bumped up to the federal level. And while that will have plenty of far-flung implications across the industry, it will also delay the Florida sports betting timeline even further. 

Granted, The Sunshine State doesn’t technically have a timeline to push back. But the issue of sports betting has been in limbo since the end of 2021. If this case gets redirected towards the Supreme Court, it will stay in lurch for weeks, perhaps even months. And depending on the Supreme Court’s ruling, the Florida sports betting timeline could end up getting bounced back a couple of years. 

This, of course, is getting a little too far ahead of the game. We first need to see whether West Flagler Associates files an appeal and/or attempts to have the case heard by SCOTUS. But even the mere possibility of these maneuvers likely means the Seminoles will keep their sports betting services on ice—not just for a couple of weeks, but potentially for the foreseeable future. Given the state of things right now, we wouldn’t count on Florida offering sports gambling on-site or online before the end of 2023.

Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can find one that works for all of your sports betting needs:

  • EXCLUSIVE BONUS
    Bovada
    4.3/5
    50% bonus up to $250
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • BetOnline
    4.1/5
    100% bonus up to $1000
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • EXCLUSIVE BONUS
    BetUS
    4.4/5
    125% up to $2,500
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • Xbet
    4.3/5
    $500 Sign-up Bonus
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • BetNow
    4.5/5
    100% up to $1,000
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • MyBookie
    50% bonus up to $1000
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • Bookmaker
    100% up to $400
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • Sportsbetting
    3.6/5
    50% up to $1000
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • EveryGame
    $500 Sign Up Bonus
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • WagerWeb
    3.5/5
    100% up to $1,000
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • BetDSI
    3.3/5
    100% up to $500 + $500 at BetDsi's Casino
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • BetNow
    4.3/5
    100% up to $450
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

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...

Online Sports Betting may receive compensation if you sign up through our links. Rest assured, we avoid biases and provide honest opinions on sportsbooks. Read our affiliate disclosure here.