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The Florida Supreme Court has denied a petition challenging the Seminole Tribe’s gaming compact with the state.

The court ruled that the petition, filed by two pari-mutuel betting operators, was not the proper vehicle to challenge the law.

The opinion marks another setback for West Flagler Associates and the Bonita-Fort Myers Corporation, leaving the ongoing case in the US Supreme Court as the sole remaining legal challenge to the compact.

The 2021 compact gives the Seminole Tribe an effective statewide monopoly on online sports betting through a “hub-and-spoke” model.

This sees off-reservation bets wired through servers on tribal land to satisfy the Indian land requirements of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).

The Seminole Tribe launched sports betting statewide for all consumers through its Hard Rock Bet brand in December, after West Flagler failed to convince courts to order a suspension.

In Florida, West Flagler’s attorneys had argued the state’s 2018 constitutional ban on “casino gambling” barred the legalisation of statewide sports betting without voter approval in a referendum.

Filing a writ of quo warranto petition, which means “what is your authority”, West Flagler claimed Ron DeSantis and the Florida legislature did not have the authority to authorise the compact.

The court disagreed, however, stating “quo warranto is not, and has never been” the proper vehicle to challenge whether a law is constitutional or not.

“This is a major victory for the people of the State of Florida, who can count on billions of dollars over the coming years to fund important state needs,” a Seminole Tribe spokesperson told NEXT.io

“Floridians and visitors can enjoy statewide sports betting and expanded casino games, now and into the future. And it means the Seminole Tribe of Florida can have confidence in the future.”

Eyes turn to Marble Palace

In a separate case, West Flagler has filed a writ of certiorari with the US Supreme Court, which is a formal request for it to review the lower court’s decision.

The operator argues the secretary of the interior did not have the authority to authorise the Florida compact, suggesting that bets placed off-reservation violate the IGRA.

The court only opts to review a fraction of the cases it has before it, leaving the future of the SCOTUS case uncertain.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh has previously said that if the compact authorises the tribe to conduct off-reservation gaming operations, then it “would likely violate” the IGRA.

The Department of the Interior last month published new regulations that affirmed the legality of Florida-style “hub-and-spoke” gaming compacts.

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