Seminole Tribe of Florida Appeal Federal Ruling Blocking Expansion
The Seminole Tribe of Florida are appealing a ruling by a federal judge where its expansion of online sports betting and gambling has been blocked.
An expansion of gambling and the launch of online sports betting are halted in the state of Florida after a federal judge ruled that a deal between the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the state invalid. US District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich ruled the agreement is in violation of a federal rule that requires players to be located on tribal lands to bet. An appeal has been filed by the tribe to try and overturn this ruling.
Challenging the Ruling
The decision was made the federal judge in a lawsuit filed by casino owners in Florida not associated with the tribe. They say the agreement should not have been approved by the United States department of Interior.
Florida and the Seminole Tribe argue that the computer servers used to process bets would be placed on tribal lands. They say this is enough and players would be able to wager from a mobile device or kiosks anywhere in the state, meeting the federal law.
The judge says that the opinion of the state and tribe is fiction. Judge Friedrich said that when a federal statue authorizes an activity within a specific location, then parties are not allowed to evade the limitation based on where the activity takes place when it does not actually take place at the given location.
Basically, the judge said the tribe can’t say that gaming is taking place on tribal lands when the players are not physically located there. The tribe started taking bets in early November, one of several states starting to offer sports betting services this year.
The judge in this case brought up the 2018 constitutional amendment passed in the state by voters that requires an expansion of gambling outside tribal lands must be approved by voters. She does not feel the tribe should be allowed to offer such gaming based on where the action takes place and because voters did not approve it.
Along with the blocking of sports betting, the tribe is not allowed to add craps and roulette, both options that were approved in the compact. The agreement took quite some time to complete, with officials and the tribe unhappy with this recent court ruling.
Critics Agree with the Constitutional Requirement Violation
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was able to negotiate the compact with the tribe earlier in 2021 and it was approved by legislature. The state stands to gain around $20 billion in a 30 year time frame. Critics of the compact have long argued that the agreement violates the constitutional requirement for new gambling services outside tribal lands.
Miami billionaire Norman Braman has been against the expansion of gambling in the state for many years. He says that the recent ruling is a win for the local community and the state. He says the goal of the compact was to allow sports betting and casino gaming at areas in Miami, including a golf resort owned by Donald Trump.
For Braman, he feels that such gaming would ruin the quality of life in Miami, with an increase in crime coming to some areas due to the activity. The billionaire says that the state is growing, and people are coming to Miami and the state as a whole with a developing high-tech industry growing at a fast pace. The area does not need to be affected negatively by gambling.
It will be interesting to see if the Seminole Tribe is able to gain any ground with their appeal or if this decision will stand and the new gambling services will not come to pass.