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The US Supreme Court has received the final brief in the Florida sports betting case’s certiorari stage, and will now decide whether to block the Seminole’s monopoly.

West Flagler argued in a filing published yesterday (21 May) that the Seminole Tribe’s Florida gaming compact violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).

The two Florida parimutuels challenging the state’s sports betting regime were replying to the Department of Interior’s (DOI) argument defending the compact.

In the brief, the operators challenged the compact on a range of issues, with a central focus on the IGRA issue.

This law, which provides the federal framework for Indian gaming, mandates that gaming take place on tribal lands.

West Flagler’s attorneys said: “The centerpiece of the government’s IGRA argument is that the Court of Appeals correctly interpreted the compact as not authorising any sports gaming off Indian lands and therefore the approval of the compact did not violate IGRA.

“By contrast, the government effectively concedes that if the compact authorised gaming off Indian lands, then its approval would have violated IGRA and the Court of Appeals’ decision would have conflicted with decisions of this court and other circuits, necessitating review and reversal by this court.”

The Seminole Tribe relaunched sports betting statewide to all eligible residents in December 2023 through its Hard Rock Bet brand.

Florida Sports betting operates through a “hub-and-spoke” model, in which off-reservations bets are directed via tribal servers to satisfy the IGRA’s Indian land requirements.

What happens next?

Gaming attorney Daniel Wallach argued on X that the Supreme Court has three options during the current certiorari stage.

It could grant certiorari, which would mean the case proceeds on the merits, with oral argument taking place in late 2024 or early 2025.

The court could also opt to deny certiorari, representing a victory for the government and the Seminole Tribe.

This would protect the tribe’s Florida sports betting monopoly and is the outcome in approximately 95% of petitions to the court.

The final option would be a summary reversal on the merits, which would simply reverse the DC Circuit Court of Appeal’s decision without additional oral or written arguments.

When the court opts to take this path, it would likely offer a per curiam opinion, that is one authored by all nine justices.

Other alleged federal and state violations

Alongside the IGRA, West Flagler said the compact violated a range of state and federal laws.

These included Article 30 of Florida’s constitution, which prohibits any expansion of “casino gambling” without voter approval in a referendum.

Other issues included alleged violations with the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA).

The UIGEA bans certain payment methods for internet gaming if the bet is placed or received in a jurisdiction where it is unlawful to do so.

West Flagler also argued the compact conflicts with the Equal Protections Clause of the Fifth Amendment, as it grants a race-based sports betting monopoly off Indian lands.

These arguments were previously examined at the federal level by the DC Circuit, which ultimately ruled in the government’s favour.

The compact dates to 2021, when Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida legislature agreed the terms with the Seminole Tribe.

A separate case, also tabled by West Flagler, was dismissed by the Florida Supreme Court which argued the petition was no the proper vehicle to challenge the law.

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