Ron DeSantis advocates for swift conclusion to Florida sports betting battle

Lea Hogg 2 months ago
Ron DeSantis advocates for swift conclusion to Florida sports betting battle

In a legal standoff that could reshape the future of sports betting in Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis is pushing for the dismissal of a lawsuit challenging the state’s 2021 sports betting compact.

Paramutuel betting operators

The lawsuit, filed by parimutuel betting operators Bonita-Fort Myers Corp and West Flagler Associates, seeks to contest the legitimacy of the compact, which granted exclusive online sports betting rights to the Seminole Tribe.

The heart of the matter revolves around the gaming compact’s unique “hub-and-spoke” model, directing off-reservation bets through tribal servers to comply with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). Governor DeSantis, represented by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, responded to the lawsuit, arguing that the two-and-a-half-year delay in filing the petition is “unjustifiable” and undermines the claim for extraordinary relief. DeSantis contends that the Seminoles, key players in the compact, should be party to the suit, a move hampered by their sovereign immunity.

Constitutional challenges

DeSantis further challenges the lawsuit on legal grounds, asserting that a writ of quo warranto – a challenge to show authority – is not a substitute for seeking a declaratory judgment on the compact’s constitutionality. The governor pointed to the 2018 Amendment 3 to the Florida constitution, which prohibits “casino gambling” expansion without voter approval, and argued that it does not apply due to exemptions for IGRA Indian gaming facilities.

Clock is ticking for West Flagler

West Flagler Associates, a key plaintiff, has until 21 December to respond to De Santis’ filing. The court will then decide whether to schedule oral arguments or proceed with written briefings before ruling on the case. The legal saga unfolds against the backdrop of a parallel federal suit awaiting review by the Supreme Court of the United States, with West Flagler seeking an extension to file a formal petition.

As the legal battling intensifies, the outcome of these proceedings could significantly influence the landscape of sports betting in Florida and set a precedent for similar disputes nationwide. The next chapter in this legal drama awaits, with stakeholders closely watching the unfolding events that could shape the future of Florida’s gaming industry.

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