Lawsuit Filed Against Feds Over Florida Sports Betting Approval

Posted on August 18, 2021
Florida sports betting
Posted By on August 18, 2021

The Department of Interior is named in  a lawsuit over its approval of the compact that allows sports betting in Florida through inaction.

Two commercial gaming operations in Florida, Magic City Casino and Bonita Springs Poker Room, are suing the Department of Interior and Secretary Deb Haaland over the approval.

Technically, the new compact was not approved by the feds. The feds had 45 days to act on the compact before it was published in the Federal Register. The DOI let that period pass, which essentially approved the compact without action.

In other words, the DOI left the decision of sports betting in Florida up to the lawsuits everyone knew would come.

While the lawsuit is obviously important, what is more pressing is the potential for a restraining order to stop FL sports betting from launching Oct. 15.

Latest version of Florida sports betting lawsuit

The latest iteration of a lawsuit says the authorization of online FL sports betting must be thrown out for three reasons:

  • The compact unlawfully allows the Seminole Tribe to operate gaming outside of their reservations.
  • The compact violates the federal Wire Act. Sports betting transactions would take place between the Seminole reservations and the rest of Florida, where sports betting is illegal.
  • The approval of the compact violates the Fifth Amendment‘s guarantee of equal protection. The lawsuit calls for Haaland’s approval of the entire compact to be vacated because of that.

The lawsuit also points out that Florida voters approved Amendment 3 in 2018. That gave voters the right to approve all gaming expansions in the state with a 60% vote.

DraftKings, FanDuel looking for Florida access

While some commercial operators are filing lawsuits, others are taking matters into their own hands.

DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook launched their own initiative to legalize FL sports betting for everyone. The two are donors to the so-called Florida Education Champions, donating $10 million apiece to get the effort started in June.

Commercial operators theoretically can launch in Florida through the compact as passed, but there are a few catches. The operators would have to launch on Hard Rock Digital‘s platform. They also would have to share 40% of sports betting revenue with the Seminoles.

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Matthew Waters

Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.

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