Florida Sports Betting Banned Overturned

  • On Friday, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously overturned a 2021 decision that invalidated a Florida gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe.
  • The compact included legal sports betting, both retail and online.
  • Decision to overturn the lower court ruling will have larger implications on the future of mobile sports betting in other tribal states.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturning a ban on Florida sports betting will have major implications on how states across the country navigate mobile sports betting.

A 2021 district court ruled that the Compact between the Seminole Tribe and state of Florida violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). The U.S. Circuit Court overturned this decision on Friday, with explanations in the ruling opening the door for mobile sports betting across the country.

Details of the court ruling claim the Seminole Tribe of Florida should be permitted to operate mobile sports betting. A key section from the Compact between the state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe is supported by the Circuit Court of Appeals and does not violate the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

“Subject to limitations set forth herein, wagers on Sports Betting . . . made by players physically located within the State using a mobile or other electronic device shall be deemed to take place exclusively where received at the location of the servers or other devices used to conduct such wagering activity at a Facility on Indian Lands.”

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals explains that “The Compact does not say that these wagers are “authorized” by the Compact (or by any other legal authority). Rather, it simply indicates that the parties to the Compact (i.e., the Tribe and Florida) have agreed that they both consider such activity (i.e., placing those wagers) to occur on tribal lands.”

Language from the compact would indeed permit mobile sports betting statewide in Florida. The compact makes this clear by claiming that “The lawfulness of any other related activity such as the placing of wagers from outside Indian lands, under state law or tribal law, is unaffected by its inclusion as a topic in the Compact.”

This is because the Compact only authorizes Tribe activity on its own lands and the wagers placed from outside Indian lands is also “directly related to the operation of” the Tribe’s sports book, and thus falls within the scope of § 2710(d)(3)(C)(vii).”

Based on the U.S. Circuit Court of appeals ruling, tribal states wanting to join the group of legal US betting states may be able to enter mobile sports betting through a similar compact as the one between Florida and the Seminole Tribe.

When Will Legal Sports Betting Return to Florida?

Overturning the 2021 legal sports betting ban means that sports betting is back in Florida, right? Not quite yet, as the Circuit Court must first issue a final mandate before sports betting goes live once again in the Sunshine State.

The final mandate would be disrupted if West Flagler Associates request hearing en banc, which would slow down the process by weeks, or even months. This is a rare feat for the US Circuit Court of Appeals, considering there’s a three-judge panel that unanimously voted in favor of the overturn.

But, even if the en banc process doesn’t occur, the plaintiff can still appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of the United States. It is unknown whether the Supreme Court would take up the decision or not. If they did take up the decision, legal Florida sports betting won’t return at least one or two years.

The prolonged decision-making is because of the impact the decision will have on other states, tribal, and non-tribal operators across the United States.

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