The battle for the future of sports betting in Florida has officially taken the next step in the legal process. While the U.S. Court of Appeals isn't planning on rendering a verdict anytime soon on the decision to repeal legal sports betting in Florida this past winter, the Seminole Tribe and Department of the Interior have filed briefs to the court that contain the crux of their arguments. In other words: The Florida sports betting battle soldiers on.
Though this part of the appeals process is standard, it carries more weight in this instance than most others. Many people already steadfastly believe the United States Supreme Court will have to rule on the Florida sports betting dispute. That sentiment implies this issue won't be resolved in the U.S. Court of Appeals, and that it will take even longer to get a definitive or meaningful hold on the future of sports betting in The Sunshine State.
Still, these filings from the Department of the Interior and the Seminole Tribe of Florida include a wealth of information. All the documents and arguments they've submitted not only clue us in to their strategy, but it sets the table for how this appeals process might unfold.
Let's investigate what these filings contain, shall we?
Seminole Tribe Not Budging in Florida Sports Betting Battle
As expected, the Seminole Tribe and the Department of the Interior are not budging on their stance that the former deserves exclusive rights to Florida sports betting.
The Seminole Tribe originally signed a 30-year gaming compact with the state, which was agreed upon by Governor Ron DeSantis. Under the terms of that agreement, sports betting in Florida was legal exclusively at the Seminole Tribe's casinos. This not only precluded online sportsbooks such as Caesars, BetMGM, FanDuel, DraftKings and many others from entering the market, but it also prevented other tribal casinos from offering their own sports betting services.
A ruling from a judge in the District Court of Columbia stated that these terms violated the Indian Regulatory Gaming Act (IGRA) by creating an unconstitutional monopoly. But the Seminole Tribe has since argued their agreement with the state should supersede that sentiment. However, a majority of people believe this point alone will not be enough for the Seminole Tribe and the supporting Department of the Interior to curry favor in the courts. They might be right.
Incidentally, it seems the Department of the Interior has taken this into account. The filed briefings indicate they're prepared to frame this matter in an entirely different light. Primarily, the Department of the Interior plans to lay out a case "about the nature of compacting and what is a part of a compact for the purposes of IGRA compliance, and what is ancillary and thereby does not implicate IGRA," according to multiple news outlets.
The language in this stance is ambiguous, convoluted and, above all, difficult to understand. But that appears to be the point. The Department of the Interior has essentially said that the IGRA is up for interpretation and designed to adapt depending on the circumstances rather than a by-the-letter-of-the-law regulatory tool.
What's Next for the Florida Sports Betting Battle?
Now that the Department of the Interior and the Seminole Tribe have filed their opening briefs, the U.S. Court of Appeals will wait for West Flagler Associates, who pushed for sports betting to be repealed in the first place, to file their own opening briefs. That isn't scheduled to happen until October 6.
Sometime thereafter, the U.S. Court of Appeals will officially jump-start the litigation proceedings. It isn't clear how long that could take. It could be days, weeks or even months. There is also no guarantee of a resolution one way or the other.
A stalemate could elevate the Florida sports betting battle to the U.S. Supreme Court. And even if the U.S. Court of Appeals does render a definitive verdict, that decision can still be appealed by the losing side. That, in turn, could also push the Florida sports betting dispute to the U.S. Supreme Court.
How Much Longer will Florida be without Sports Betting?
If only we could answer this question. Unfortunately, we can't. There are too many variables involved.
The best we can offer is potential workarounds for those living in Florida. If you're still looking to bet on sports, you can travel to one of the neighboring states where it's already legal. You can also check out our extensive reviews of the top online sportsbooks, which includes a bunch of sites that allow Floridians to set up accounts and begin betting in mere minutes.
For those who need something more concrete, we would beg you to look at other instances in which sports betting battles have needed litigation. Different levels of the U.S. Court system have previously ruled that certain appeals related to gaming have failed to protect the rights promised to tribal operated casinos.
Knowing that the Seminole Tribe will lean on this precedent until it is absolutely out of options, there's a strong chance, if not an overwhelming likelihood, that Florida won't be able to re-implement legal sports betting for the next few years. To be honest, at this rate, we'd be surprised if the Florida sports betting battle reaches a final resolution prior to 2025.
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:
Play Now100% bonus up to $1000
Play Now100% up to $500
Play Now$500 Sign-up Bonus
Play Now100% up to $450
Play Now50% up to $1000
Play Now100% up to $1,000
Play Now$500 Sign Up Bonus
Play Now100% up to $300
Play Now100% up to $500 + $500 at BetDsi's Casino