Florida online sports betting loses big in federal court

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A federal judge struck down sports betting statewide late Monday. The judge determined the agreement, otherwise known as the Seminole Compact, violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

Daniel Wallach, who teaches sports betting law at the University of Miami School of Law, said the act requires gambling to take place exclusively on Indian land.

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“Anybody who wagers on a mobile device located in Jacksonville, Key West, Daytona Beach; they’re not on Indian land,” he explained.

The Seminole Tribe argued it was legal because the servers were on tribal land, but the judge didn’t buy it.

Florida locals can still download the Hard Rock Sportsbook app and place bets, even after the ruling Monday.

“This is a serious violation of the federal statute,” Wallach said. “The right thing and legal thing would be to shut everything down and stop sports betting and apps.”

Gary Bitner, a representative for the tribe, sent Action News Jax this statement: “The Seminole Tribe is reviewing the Judge’s opinion and carefully considering its next steps.” A Notice of Appeal has been filed.

The judge’s ruling also takes away the rest of the compact between Florida and the Seminole Tribe. Wallach explained that includes craps, roulette, and any casino expansions in South Florida.

“It was a clean sweep. It was as if the compact became completely void,” he said. “It unravels close to a year of negotiations and drafting.”

John Sowinski is the president of nocasinos.org, one of the organizations that filed a suit against sports betting.

“The tribes have control over their sovereign lands but downtown Jacksonville or wherever everyone is holding a cell phone is not tribal, sovereign land,” he said.

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A political action committee is working to put sports betting on the November 2022 ballot, which could open the door to other sports betting apps like Draft Kings and FanDuel to be legal in Florida.