U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear challenge to Seminole tribe’s exclusive online sports betting rights in Florida

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a challenge to an agreement granting the Seminole Tribe exclusive rights to operate online sports betting in Florida. This decision represents a major setback for opponents of the deal.


The highest court in the nation denied a petition from challengers of the compact, an arrangement projected to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for both the tribe and the state.

This ruling marks the latest defeat for West Flagler Associates and Bonita-Fort Myers Corp., which operate racetracks and poker rooms in Florida. Earlier this year, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that these companies had used the wrong type of petition to contest the 2021 compact between the Seminole Tribe and Governor Ron DeSantis’ administration.

“What’s important with today’s announcement is that the most significant barrier to online sports betting in Florida has been removed,” said Daniel Wallach, a South Florida attorney and sports betting law expert, who had filed a brief urging the Supreme Court to either review or overturn the case.

The opposing companies argue that the compact creates a sports betting monopoly for the tribe in the third-most populous state in the U.S. They contend that the U.S. Department of Interior improperly approved the compact, alleging it violates the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which mandates that gambling must occur on tribal lands. The plaintiffs questioned the legitimacy of considering online sports bets as being placed on tribal land simply because the computer servers hosting the betting services are located there.

Additionally, the companies claimed that Governor DeSantis and the Florida Legislature overstepped their authority by sanctioning sports betting beyond tribal lands. They argued that this compact circumvented a 2018 constitutional amendment requiring a citizen initiative to expand casino gambling outside of tribal land.

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In contrast, the tribe maintains that the Legislature holds the authority to determine where online gambling originates and that the amendment does not alter this power.

Attorneys representing DeSantis and legislative leaders have contended that sports betting is distinct from casino gambling and therefore is not restricted by the amendment.

The Seminole Tribe launched its online sports betting platform late last year. According to reports, Florida’s share of the revenue from this initiative has already reached $357 million from December through May. State economic forecasters estimate that the revenue sharing from tribal gambling could total $4.4 billion by the end of the decade.

The Supreme Court’s decision “means members of the Seminole Tribe and all Floridians can count on a bright future made possible by the Compact,” the tribe stated.

This ruling may pave the way for other tribes to pursue similar online gambling operations. “Tribes in other states stand to benefit from this decision because now they have a clear roadmap that has cleared judicial review,” Wallach noted. “I would expect to see efforts ramped up in other states.”

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