Florida Supreme Court Denies Motion to Shut Down Sports Betting

The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday denied a motion by two pari-mutuels attempting to scuttle mobile sports betting in Florida, declaring that the move would have been beyond the scope of the request.

West Flagler Associates and the owners of the Bonita Springs Poker Room had asked the state high court to intervene under a so-called writ of quo warranto, in essence asserting that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state legislature exceeded their power in 2021 by entering into a 30-year compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The deal included the ability to conduct mobile sports betting off tribal lands through its Hard Rock Bet brand, which marked a paradigm shift in tribal gaming compacts.

Florida Supreme Court ruling

Read the full report HERE.

While the ruling is a setback for West Flagler, it’s not a total defeat. It in essence declares that the ask was beyond the realm of what the court could consider and seems to suggest that further litigation in state court is required.

Supreme Court the Final Stand for West Flagler?

West Flagler is also awaiting a ruling on whether the United States Supreme Court will take up its case. After that court refused to block a ruling by the US Court of Appeals, DC Circuit in October, Justice Brett Kavanaugh noted that the scope of that request likely made the Florida court system the proper venue.

READ MORE: Attorney says West Flagler SCOTUS Case Has Merit

COUNTERPOINT: Tribal Attorney Says West Flagler Writ of Certiorari Defeats Itself

Read the Florida ruling on Thursday:

“Framed as it is, the petition presents nothing other than a challenge to the substantive constitutionality of the law ratifying the compact. But quo warranto is not, and has never been, the proper vehicle to obtain a declaration as to the substantive constitutionality of an enacted law. For that reason, we deny the petition because the relief that Petitioners seek is beyond what the writ of quo warranto provides.”

The ruling went on to note that invoking writ of quo warranto would have expanded the judgment well beyond its intention.

West Flagler Associates and Bonita Springs Poker Room have not yet indicated if they will appeal the ruling.

Recent Florida Sports Betting Timeline

Hard Rock Bet resumed taking mobile sports wagers in Florida on Dec. 7, after being shuttered for more than two years. The process of re-launching was enabled when a US Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit panel reversed a federal judge’s decision from 2021 that the compact violated the mandate of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

  • June 30, 2023: A three-judge panel from the US Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, reversed a lower-court ruling that voided the 2021 compact.
  • Sept. 26, 2023: West Flagler Associates asked the Florida Supreme Court to prevent Florida sports betting from re-launching.
  • Oct. 12, 2023: Chief Justice John Roberts recalls the mandate of the DC Circuit and orders the stay under the Supreme Court can be briefed.
  • Oct. 25, 2023; The US Supreme Court denied the stay request, saying the argument is better resolved in Florida.
  • Nov. 1, 2023: The Seminole Tribe announced a schedule to launch retail sports betting, craps, and roulette at its six casinos in the state.
  • Nov. 7, 2023: Mobile sports betting resumed on Hard Rock Bet app for existing customers.
  • Dec. 5, 2023: Hard Rock Bet opens mobile sports betting to new customers, two days earlier than previously announced.
  • Dec. 7, 2023: Retail sports betting, craps, and roulette launched at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, Seminole Classic Casino in Hollywood, and Seminole Casino Coconut Creek.
  • Dec. 8, 2023: Retail sports betting, craps, and roulette launch date for Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa.
  • Dec. 11, 2023: Retail sports betting, craps, and roulette launch date for Seminole Casino Immokalee and Seminole Brighton Casino.
  • Dec. 26, 2023: West Flagler files a petition of writ of quo warranto, claiming Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state legislature exceeded their charge in entering into a 2021 gambling compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
  • March 21, 2024: The Florida Supreme Court denies West Flagler’s petition.

About the Author
Brant James

Brant James

Senior Writer
Brant James is a senior writer who covers the sports betting industry and legislation at Gaming Today. An alum of the Tampa Bay Times, ESPN.com, espnW, SI.com, and USA Today, he's covered motorsports and the NHL as beats. He also once made a tail-hook landing on an aircraft carrier with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and rode to the top of Mt. Washington with Travis Pastrana. John Tortorella has yelled at him numerous times.

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