DOI Calls FL Sports Betting Rehearing ‘Unwarranted’

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FL sports betting

The US Department of the Interior called West Flagler Associates‘ petition for a rehearing en banc in their FL sports betting case “unwarranted.”

The DC Circuit Court of Appeals had given the DOI 15 days, or until Thursday, to file.

The court now must decide whether to grant the Florida sports betting rehearing. Legal experts think it will be a long shot. 

FL sports betting return date unclear

It is unclear when legal sports betting will return to the Sunshine State via the Hard Rock Sportsbook.

A return by the NFL opener (Sept. 7) is highly unlikely.

Legal sports betting in Florida was suspended on Dec. 4, 2021.

DOI’s FL sports betting argument

The core of the argument from US Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, over 25 pages, is as follows: 

“Plaintiffs (collectively, “West Flagler”) are Florida-based brick-and-mortar casinos who believe that the State of Florida violated its constitution and engaged in unlawful discrimination by enacting a statute permitting persons located on non- Indian lands within Florida to place online wagers through a sportsbook operated by the Seminole Tribe of Florida. West Flagler responded by suing the Secretary of the Interior—who has no control over what gaming Florida permits on non-Indian land within its borders—because the Secretary did not disapprove a Tribal-State gaming compact addressing, among other topics, how the Tribe will treat state- sanctioned wagers placed from non-Indian land once received by the Tribe via servers located on Indian land. 

“West Flagler’s arguments for rehearing are strawmen, premised on its erroneous assertion that, by referencing the state-sanctioned wagers, the Compact—and the Secretary’s approval thereof—purport to unilaterally legalize the placement of those wagers and the State regime for regulating them. But, as West Flagler acknowledges, the panel held in no uncertain terms that the Compact does not do that. And the panel did so while making scrupulously clear that neither its opinion nor the Secretary’s approval prevents West Flagler from challenging the relevant State law in Florida’s courts. Rehearing is unwarranted.” 

FL sports betting case to this point

West Flagler Associates filed its petition for a rehearing en banc on Aug. 14.

It was an expected move. However, experts told LSR the pathway was considered a long shot, and the court did not automatically grant a stay. 

Therefore, offering NFL betting by the start of the season was thought to be in play, should the court issue a fast ruling. 

What Seminole Tribe of Florida said about previous decision

The DC Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously overturned the District Court decision that blocked Florida sports wagering June 30

The tribe issued a statement reaffirming as much on Aug. 14, via its spokesperson. 

“It’s important to note the three Judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a unanimous decision in favor of the US Department of the Interior, which approved the Gaming Compact between the Seminole Tribe and the State of Florida.”