Two years ago, online sports betting was on the verge of becoming a reality for Florida residents, with the convenience of placing wagers from their smartphones. However, the state’s compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida became embroiled in a legal battle.
Pari-mutuel owners challenged the agreement, asserting that it granted the tribe undue control over gaming and exceeded its legal authority for statewide online sports betting beyond their physical properties.
A lower court had initially ruled in favor of the Seminole Tribe’s sports betting model, allowing it to proceed. However, a “stay” order issued by U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts put online betting on hold, pending a comprehensive review.
The implications of this legal standoff are significant. John Sowinski, representing the anti-gambling group “No Casinos,” stressed the gravity of the situation. The group had supported a 2018 amendment that mandated voter approval for any gambling expansion in Florida.
Sowinski contends that the Seminole Tribe’s compact, which grants them control over statewide gambling and access to Vegas-style games and online sports betting, is deeply problematic and should be rejected. The compact is estimated to generate $2.5 billion in state revenue during its proposed 30-year term.
The controversy has led to legal challenges in both federal and state courts, reflecting the high stakes involved. Sowinski urged the Florida Supreme Court to uphold the people’s choices, whether in Tallahassee or Washington.
“No Casinos” intends to submit a brief in the state lawsuit aimed at blocking the gambling compact on Monday. The battle over the future of online sports betting in Florida continues, with much riding on the outcome.
WESH 2 News reached out to both the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the attorney representing the plaintiffs for their comments on the recent high court decision. The situation remains fluid as legal challenges and negotiations persist.
The dream of online sports betting in Florida has hit a legal impasse, with the state’s compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida under scrutiny. The future of online sports betting in the Sunshine State remains uncertain, with legal battles and negotiations ongoing.