Florida Sports Betting Petition Denied By State Supreme Court

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Florida sports betting

The Florida Supreme Court denied Thursday a petition by West Flagler Associates challenging the state’s gaming compact, including sports betting. 

The decision marks the latest victory for the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which remains allowed to continue offering legal online and in-person Florida sports betting

West Flagler, however, is still hoping that the Supreme Court of the United States will take its case against the Department of the Interior. It also will have an avenue to challenge Florida gambling via state courts on different grounds.

Florida sports betting at a glance

The Seminoles have essentially a monopoly on sports betting in Florida due to a 2021 gaming compact that was negotiated with Gov. Ron DeSantis

The Seminoles relaunched online sports betting in Florida via the Hard Rock Bet app on Nov. 7 to existing customers. Six Seminole casinos debuted in-person sports betting a month later. 

State Supreme Court arguments

West Flagler argued that expanded gambling violates the Florida Constitution. It argued that expanded gambling must be approved through a referendum that gains at least 60% voter support.

The governor’s legal team disagreed. It added that what West Flagler was asking for is not relief that could be granted via that type of motion that was filed. 

From the state Supreme Court decision

The State Supreme Court summarized its 11-page decision in denying the petition. 

“Ultimately, the relief that Petitioners seek is beyond what quo warranto provides. We have never used the writ to test the substantive constitutionality of a statute, and we decline Petitioners’ implicit invitation to expand the scope of the writ here. To do so would serve as an affront to an essential feature of quo warranto—that it is used to challenge the authority to exercise a state power rather than the merits of the action. 

“In addition, considering Petitioners’ request here would undermine the structure of article V of the Florida Constitution, which circumscribes our ability to review the substantive constitutionality of a statute and commits that review, in the first instance, to the trial courts. And because we reach our decision today based on existing limits to the scope of quo warranto, we similarly decline Respondents’ invitation to reexamine precedent. 

Florida sports betting SCOTUS case

The Department of the Interior received an extension until April 12, 2024 to file its response to West Flagler in the SCOTUS case. 

If SCOTUS decides to hear the case, experts say it would be decided some time in 2025

However, SCOTUS only hears 70-80 cases annually, or fewer than 2% of the petitions it receives. 

Hard Rock CEO: ‘We could still lose’

Florida’s share of 2024 revenue from online sports betting is already more than $120 million, according to The Associated Press.

“We could still lose, there’s no doubt about that,” Hard Rock CEO Jim Allen told Gaming Today. “The one thing I can tell you, we certainly talk to all of the major players in this space and it is unanimous. I do not have one of the other big companies that don’t believe in our legal position. Not one. Now that doesn’t mean a judge won’t rule against it.”