Ron DeSantis, Seminoles, File Briefs In Support Of Gaming Compact

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Every week it seems someone with a stake in the sports betting debate in Florida takes action to promote their point of view. 

Tuesday supporters of the new compact signed between the state and the Seminole Tribe of Florida filed briefs in both Washington, D.C. and the Sunshine State, arguing opponents of the measure don’t have a legal leg to stand on. 

Ron DeSantis Files Brief To Dismiss Federal Lawsuit

Governor Ron DeSantis, who signed the historic gaming compact with Seminole Tribe earlier this year, filed documents yesterday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, arguing — among other things — opponents of the deal lack proper standing. 

DeSantis’ actions were first reported on Twitter by Daniel Wallach, an expert on sports betting who specializes in gambling law. 

In July, a pari-mutuel company filed suit against DeSantis and other state officials arguing the compact violates federal law.  At the heart of the issue is where sports bets will be placed.  As written the compact stipulates all bets placed through mobile apps will be processed by servers located on tribal lands. 

The Department of Interior, which has oversight over all tribal gambling issues as a result of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, approved the compact earlier this month

Wallach has been outspoken all year in his opposition to the deal. He continued to question the merits of the compact last night and said on Twitter the governor’s legal counsel on the matter was essentially making up the new law. 

Seminole Tribe Files Brief Supporting Department of Interior Actions

Meanwhile, the Seminole Tribe filed their own documents in U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia in support of DOI’s approval and seeking dismissal of another case against the compact. 

On Aug. 16, West Flagler Associates, the same pari-mutuel company that targeted DeSantis in Florida, filed suit in D.C. against DOI and Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland regarding the compact. The suit was filed in D.C. because that is where DOI is located. 

The company alleges Haaland exceeded her authority by approving the deal.  Similar to the case in Florida, this one also argues the compact is illegal because the bets will be placed elsewhere and only processed through servers on tribal lands. 

In Tuesday’s brief filed in D.C., the Seminoles argue the case should be dismissed because of its sovereign immunity, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

The Sun-Sentinel added that in order to seek the dismissal, since the tribe was not named in the case, it had to file the motion.

Where Sports Betting In Florida Stands

It’s Sept. 1 and advocates hope to have sports betting up and running later this fall.

But hiccups remain. 

In addition to the pending legal challenges, sportsbook powerhouses FanDuel and DraftKings have teamed up to try to bring about a statewide sports betting referendum in Nov. 2022. They have until next year to collect nearly 900,000 signatures. 

If approved by voters, sports betting would be allowed anywhere in the state and not restricted to tribal lands. 

Florida Education Champions, which supports the measure because funds would go toward Florida education programs, has regularly taken to social media over the summer to gather support for their efforts.

About the Author

Mary M. Shaffrey

Mary Shaffrey is an award-winning journalist who co-authored "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Government." She has spent more than 20 years covering government, both at the state and federal level. As a fan of the Baltimore Orioles and the Providence College Friars she feels cursed. Luckily she is a hockey mom too so her spirits aren't totally shot.

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