In a recent development, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has urged the Florida Supreme Court to reject a legal challenge concerning the Seminole Tribe’s monopoly on sports betting in the state. The challenge was filed by a pair of pari-mutuel companies seeking to invalidate the 2021 gaming compact between the tribe and the state, which allowed the tribe to operate an online sportsbook. DeSantis and the legislature’s lawyers argue that the companies waited too long to bring their challenge and that their claims lack merit.
This legal battle is part of a two-year fight led by West Flagler Associates to prevent the Seminole Tribe from accepting bets over the internet from anywhere in the state. Despite earlier unsuccessful attempts, the tribe’s Hard Rock Bets platform began accepting wagers from select customers last month. The state court has declined to expedite its proceedings, and West Flagler’s latest legal maneuver is seen as a “last resort.”
The state’s lawyers have emphasized that West Flagler waited too long to file its challenge, undermining its claim for immediate court intervention. They have also argued that the company does not have the authority to seek legal action, traditionally the responsibility of the state attorney general. Additionally, the state contends that the tribe’s sports betting operation complies with state and federal law, as the servers accepting wagers are located on tribal land.
The Florida Supreme Court may provide favorable ground for Governor DeSantis, as five of the seven justices were appointed by him. The court has previously supported his political agenda, making it a relatively friendly venue for the governor’s legal strategy.
In their response to the West Flagler case, the state’s lawyers cited a precedent set earlier this year when the court rejected a lawsuit by State Attorney Andrew Warren, who was suspended by DeSantis, emphasizing that the companies knew the implications of their legal actions. This recent development highlights the ongoing legal dispute surrounding sports betting in Florida and the influence of the state’s top officials on the judicial system.