The Seminole Tribe of Florida and the U.S. Department of Interior have joined forces to reinstate Florida sports betting. Their latest attempt has been to justify the original compact by claiming “allocation of civil jurisdiction.” The compact was initially deemed a violation due to its language allowing for online sports betting in Florida to occur.
Even as bettors were able to wager from anywhere in Florida, it’s the servers’ location that matters per the argument. This was ultimately ruled as “legal fiction” leading to the compact being halted. There have been official appeals filed to reinstate sports betting, with the latest efforts viewing this new language.
Florida Seminoles Argue for Compact
The compact gave exclusive rights to sports betting in Florida to take place on Seminole grounds. The tribe now argues that they also have exclusivity over online sports betting via civil jurisdiction. This court filing is aiming to convince another judge that the initial compact was not in violation of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).
The basis for this strategy comes from language in the IGRA per 2710(d)(3)(C)(i)-(ii). It is not that the compact grants online sports betting in Florida, more so that it authorizes regulatory jurisdiction to the Seminoles for all wagers in Florida.
Essentially, the federal law allows the Seminoles to offer retail sports betting per the IGRA, but the state of Florida allows the Seminoles to offer online sports betting. The Department of Interior presented this angle during their opening brief with the tribe supporting in their amicus brief.
“[b]ecause the jurisdiction over the placement of any wager occurring off of Indian lands would normally fall to the State, the compacting parties used IGRA’s jurisdiction allocation provisions to allocate the State’s jurisdiction over that specific aspect of the online sports betting transaction to the Tribe for regulatory purposes . . . so that the Tribe can regulate the [entire online sports betting] transaction from start to finish under the terms of the 2021 Compact. . .”
Will The Argument Work?
Unfortunately, Florida sports betting fans should not get their hopes up for this case to be successful. For starters, the tribe argued profusely that the compact itself authorized online sports betting. With the compact now rejected, this change of argument can be viewed as a desperate move.
Additionally, should this argument be successful the ramifications would not stop at just Florida. This would argue the definition of the IGRA itself, opening the doors for other Native American tribes to utilize it in the same manner. The IGRA is strict with its definition of ‘Indian Lands’. For this argument to work, the foundation of the IGRA would be in jeopardy.
The case for the appeal of the Florida compact will not be complete until at least 2023 when the appellate court addresses the claims. This Florida Hail Mary will be presented at that time.