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Two Florida parimutuel betting operators have filed a motion in the Florida Supreme Court to suspend the recently relaunched online sports betting. 

The move is the latest twist in a contentious legal battle around the Seminole’s gaming compact with Florida, which grants the tribe an effective monopoly on online sports betting. 

The compact does so through a “hub-and-spoke” model, which means that online bets are routed through servers situated on tribal reservations. This is to satisfy the text of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), which only permits tribes to conduct gaming on tribal land. 

After nearly two years offline, yesterday the tribe relaunched its sports betting offering through the Hard Rock Bet brand as a beta version of the product went live to previous customers and loyalty members.

This came despite an ongoing legal dispute in the state Supreme Court, West Flagler v. Ron DeSantis. 

Does the Seminoles gaming compact violate the state constitution?

The case, which pits the Florida parimutuels against the governor and legislature, concerns whether the compact is in violation of Article X, Section 30 of the Florida constitution. 

Often known as Amendment 3, the text prohibits any expansion of “casino gambling” in Florida without explicit approval from voters in a referendum. 

The amendment’s author, anti-gambling lobbying group No Casinos, has filed an amicus brief in support of West Flagler.

West Flagler argues that if the compact did indeed violate the constitution, then Florida’s government “exceeded their authority” in approving it.  

“This abuse of authority warrants this court’s review and correction,” said the betting operator at the time.  

In its latest petition, the parimutuels argued the sports betting relaunch was intended to blindside the court: “The tribe has sought to surprise the petitioners and this court by presenting a ‘fait accompli’ on November 7.” 

The motion added that the only remedy to the petition would be to immediately suspend the online betting components of the law until the court has ruled on the case. 

“The extraordinary actions of respondents to side-step the will of the citizens of Florida and the Florida constitution, enabling the tribe’s actions, mandates the immediate exercise of the court’s ‘all writs’ power as requested in the petition,” said West Flagler. 

Legal commentators expect the next step will be for the court to order governor DeSantis and the state legislature to respond to the motion by the end of the week. 

The Seminoles declined to comment.

SCOTUS rejects sports betting suspension

The latest request is similar to the motion to stay that West Flagler made in the US Supreme Court case, which is still to be settled. 

While SCOTUS chief justice John Roberts initially granted the suspension in that case, the court ultimately rejected the motion after the government responded. 

This has led some legal commentators to argue it is therefore unlikely the Supreme Court will opt to take up the case. 

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