Seminole Tribe Files Again For Stay Of Florida Sports Betting Ruling

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Florida sports betting

After the Seminole Tribe of Florida‘s motion to stay District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich‘s Florida sports betting ruling was denied last week, the tribe wasted no time seeking a stay from the D.C. Court of Appeals.

The emergency motion was filed on Thanksgiving by Seminole Tribe attorney Barry Richard. It asks that the D.C. Court of Appeals issue a stay of the District Court’s ruling and allow the Seminole Tribe to continue accepting bets while the appeal of the decision plays out.

Short timeline on Florida sports betting

The emergency FL sports betting motion is before a three-judge panel that includes:

The reply is due by noon on Wednesday.

While there is no date stipulated for the decision — we saw how unhelpful that was at the district court — it would be expected to have it in short order, likely before the weekend.

One thing to note with regards to federal judges: efforts to predict decisions based on the party affiliation of the President who appoints judges is typically a fool’s errand.

A familiar story

Like the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s request to Friedrich for a stay, the Tribe must satisfy the Court of Appeals that they meet a four-part test:

A stay would pause the ruling from the District Court and restore the 2021 Compact that authorized sports betting in Florida pending the results of the appeal.

Digging a bit deeper

The Seminole Tribe of Florida argues that they are likely to succeed on the merits for several reasons. The most prominent is that the Tribe argues that they were entitled to intervene on a limited basis under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 24.

Part of the Tribe’s argument on this point is that Department of Justice lawyers representing the Secretary of the Interior failed to represent the Tribe’s interests in the case adequately.

On the first prong, the Tribe goes on to argue that they are a necessary party under Rule 19(a); in regards to whether the Tribe was indispensable, the Seminole Tribe once against highlights:

there is a substantantial legal question regarding whether the United States can be said to have adequately represented the interests of the Tribe in this case given its litigating tactics.

The Tribe concludes their first argument by contending that despite being a “necessary and indispensable party,” they were prevented from being joined by sovereign immunity.

Irreparable harm?

The second prong of the motion for a stay argues that the Seminole Tribe will suffer irreparable harm if a stay is not granted. The Tribe contends that the failure to dismiss the case would result in a loss of sovereignty, which would satisfy the D.C. Circuit’s standard for irreparable harm.

The Tribe argues that they have:

protected interests in the validity of the 2021 Compact as a contracting party, as an economic beneficiary, and as a sovereign entity.

The Tribe notes that the State of Florida is slated to lose “tens of millions per month in revenue sharing payments from the Tribe.”

No harm to the plaintiffs or the federal defendants?

One of the interesting aspects of the case is that the Seminole Tribe is not a party. However, the Tribe is seeking to intervene, so while the Tribe is not a party, they ask the Court of Appeals to stay the case.

For a court to do this, the Court must find that the other parties (typically, it is only the other party) would not be harmed.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida argues that the plaintiffs’ injuries “are minor and speculative” compared to the burdens facing the Tribe. The Tribe contends that the plaintiffs’ allegations of harm are only about a future indeterminant injury.

The Tribe attempts to refute the plaintiffs’ declarations of losses following the Hard Rock Digital product launch by stating that they were not “competent evidence.”

Public interest supports stay of Florida sports betting ruling?

The Seminole Tribe of Florida argues that a stay supports the status quo. The status quo maintains “significant public economic and employment benefits….”

Any potential disruption to the continuation of Florida sports betting pending an appeal threatens the revenue-sharing with the state, which according to the Tribe, has already seen $75 million in revenue-sharing payments being made to the state since October.

What is next in Florida sports betting case?

Responses from the West Flagler Associates and the Department of the Interior are due tomorrow at noon.

The plaintiffs will likely base their arguments around Friedrich’s findings, which support a stay as of last week. It is unknown just where (or if) the Department of the Interior will come down, given some of their unique arguments in recent briefs, but their response is due tomorrow at noon as well.

We know that DOJ attorney Rachel Heron has entered an appearance on behalf of the Department of the Interior and Secretary Deb Haaland but are not sure who else will make up the DOJ team and what position they will take. The emergency nature of the motion should result in a decision being rendered in short order.