West Flagler Associates, the operator of horse racing tracks and jai alai frontons in Florida, is continuing its legal battle against the Seminole Tribe’s sports betting monopoly in the state. The operator is petitioning the State Supreme Court to shut down the tribe’s mobile sportsbook, which was relaunched earlier this week.
The Seminole Tribe of Florida, which owns the Hard Rock casino brand, reactivated its controversial statewide sports betting app after the U.S. Supreme Court denied a request by West Flagler’s lawyers to block the 2021 gaming compact. This compact gave the tribe a monopoly on sports betting, as well as permission to offer roulette and craps.
West Flagler argues that the $2.5 billion gaming agreement violates the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) because the tribe’s mobile app allows betting statewide, rather than just on tribal lands. The operator also asserts that the compact violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The legal battle has been ongoing for two years, with West Flagler suing in both state and federal courts. A federal appellate panel ruled in June 2023 that the issue would be better decided by the Florida Supreme Court. A ruling on the state case is expected next year, but in the meantime, West Flagler is concerned that the tribe will profit from the app’s operations.
The Seminole Tribe and the State of Florida argue that the app complies with IGRA because its servers are based on tribal land, where the bets are processed. They also contend that the compact does not violate the Florida Constitution’s amendment on casino gaming expansion, as it only applies to commercial sports betting outside of a Tribal compact.
The legal wrangling between West Flagler and the Seminole Tribe is set to continue as both parties seek to define the boundaries of tribal gaming and sports betting within the state of Florida.