Florida Sports Betting Off Again, For Now, As Tribes Appeal

Florida Florida Sports Betting Off Again, For Now, As Tribes Appeal
Nov 23, 2021 20:11Tim Ronaldson

Legalized sports betting in Florida lasted all of three weeks before a federal judge said not so fast.

On Monday, Dabney Friedrich, a U.S. District judge, ruled that the agreement the state of Florida had in place with the Seminole Tribe violated federal law. The tribe almost immediately appealed the ruling, with the hopes of overturning it and reinstating legalized mobile sports betting in the state.

The ruling through in flux a situation that has been contentious from the state but looked like it had finally reached the end point.

Mobile Sports Betting Ruled Illegal

In her decision, Friedrich ruled that the deal between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe — in which the tribe was given a monopoly over sports betting in Florida — violated federal law.

The law in question is the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which requires that all gambling that is sanctioned by a state has to happen within tribal-owned land. Friedrich’s reasoning in this case is that mobile sports betting was happening from all parts of Florida, way outside of land the Seminole Tribe owns.

The people who conjured up the deal between the state and the tribe reasoned that, because the computer servers that process the sports bets are physically located on land the tribe owns, then all the sports bets were technically happening within tribal land.

Friedrich simply called that reasoning “fiction.”

The judge’s ruling should have put an immediate halt on mobile sports betting in Florida. However, as of Tuesday night, the Seminole Tribe hadn’t shut down operations at all. People could still download the app from mobile devices, and they were still accepting sports wagers.

What Happens from Here

Many legal experts have said that what should’ve happened when the judge’s ruling came down is that mobile sports wagering should have immediately stopped. The actions by the Seminole Tribe to not do that could put them on shaky ground legally.

Daniel Wallach, an attorney’s who’s an analyst for the gaming industry, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel this week that the tribe is “playing with fire by flagrantly ignoring a court order and potentially violating a number of different federal gaming statutes.”

In other words, the tribe could be angering the appeals court judges who will hear their case — and those are the exact people the tribe needs on their side if they want Friedrich’s ruling overturned.

If the ruling isn’t reversed, then it’s possible that bettors could call into question any best that were placed on the mobile sports betting since it first launched on November 1. It’s possible, as Wallach explained, that bettors could try to get a refund on any wagers that they lost.

We’re far away from that potential catastrophe, but we’re also seemingly just as far from perfectly legal mobile sports betting in Florida — despite it actually launching a few weeks ago.

It’s likely that in the near future, the Seminole Tribe will shut down their app and stop accepting bets from people who can still access it. And if they don’t, it’s possible the federal government could step in and force that to happen.

So much for unfettered mobile sports betting in Florida … for now, at least.

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Tim Ronaldson
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Tim Ronaldson is a writer, blogger and marketer. He loves all things sports, especially covering the sports betting industry. He joined the AmericaGambles Team 2020 and is mainly responsible for columns and extensive reportage articles.
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